Club Politique by Che Tibby

Herded on the Grapevine

It's hard to think ill of people you know? You like to think of people as gentle and graceful souls at heart. You think of them as intelligent and amenable. Perhaps you think of them as reasonable and forthright.

Regardless of how you see those around you, the people you see on a regular basis or strangers in the street, it's hard not to think that at heart, people are just basically 'good'. To think that people are rational and 'with it'.

And then you see 10500 people spend eight hours getting frickin' hammered.

To revive an old and classic Kiwi phrase there was a 'power of piss' put away at Toast Martinborough this past Sunday. As the official representative of Public Address at the event, a friend of mine and I were whisked away to Featherston by train at the ungodly hour of 9.30am. Now, how in the hell I managed to get onto a corporate carriage to this event I cannot rightly say, but the hardships we endured are beyond mention.

A seemingly endless supply of champagne. Brown-bagged breakfast bagels, fruit salad and croissants. A seamless ride from the city to the country, and buses awaiting. And there it was, a wine festival and fantastic weather. Torture. Absolute torture. No one should have to endure that.

Mind you, and as a glimpse of the day unfolding, even before we had left Upper Hutt there were reports of one gent having 'had a little too much'. Obviously not a stayer there, chum. I meanwhile was pacing myself, mostly for fear of not finding a 'comfort stop' available on the train itself; but this type of decorum was not to last.

We pretty much hit the ground running. Do yourself a favour and hit above link to the Festival website. See that look in the chaps eye? See the blushing cheeks on the lady friend? See the slightly amorous look in his eyes and the carefully placed hands?

Hardened drinking does that. Believe me.

Weeeeelll... I do exaggerate a little. I made it to work today without too much hassle, so I guess I'm not as legendary a drunk as I make out, but damn, what a time was had.

Probably the most memorable part of the day was the sheer weight of people at the events spread through Martinborough's vineyards. People queuing for wine, people queuing for food, women queuing for the bathrooms, guys sneaking off behind hedges and flax bushes for a tinkle.

There people dancing just about everywhere. Fantastic food at not entirely pocket-gouging prices. All kinds of great bands and entertainers. Wine at prices that made 'tasting' a joke (let's face facts people. No-one goes to a festival to 'taste'. If you're that keen just go over to a cellar door, and save a heap of cash).

Not that that's a criticism mind you, things were pretty much as you'd expect on any city night out. But, this event had the distinct advantage of taking place on a beautiful Sunday, at times light winds wafting through the vineyards. Mostly. It is the Wellington region after all.

At one point we found ourselves lounging there in the vines at Ata Rangi. Look, there's no other word for it but bliss. The wine porters found us and brought a sticky over, and there we lay.

So other people trudged according to schedule around as many vineyards as possible to try as many wines as possible and part with as many Martinborough francs as possible before their time ran out and they missed seeing their favourite band and/or performer play their favourite song.

And we just lay in the grass while 'Philippa' brought us the Kahu Botrytris Riesling.

Before that we sat high on some bleachers and people-watched, and waited for 'Howard' to bring us the Chardonnay.

We grooved along to Goldenhorse. We went to a place and danced to old school rock and roll. We spent money on more than enough select Chardonnays and Sauv Blancs. We talked politics with some radio guy.

And all around us people staggered to and fro constantly. They sang Culture Club and Po Karekare Ana in the bus on the way back to the train station. Some hardened Aussie sheilas cackled and sexually harassed me on the shuttle bus between vineyards. I felt so... cheap. People danced the worst dances you've ever seen. I saw blokes wearing wedding dresses... Enough?

Pissed idiots galore. Thank god it was Sunday or they might have trashed the whole village.

I already can't wait till next year.