Hi. Call me Merle – it means ‘blackbird’, if it matters. I realise that this is not a common name. It gets worse. I wasn’t born here. My beginnings were in the south of France, a rural idyll where my family and I spent all our time out-of-doors, come rain or shine.
I suppose you could describe me as an immigrant, but I didn’t really ever want to come here. I’ve tried to fit in, I really have – no I promised I wouldn’t cry. I think the hardest part is that I haven’t been able to fulfill myself. Everyone has a purpose and I have been tantalisingly close to completing mine several times, but I have been denied. Instead I have been passed from hand to hand as a gift, as a prize.
My troubles, and my travels, began when I was packed in a cardboard box with five of my sisters. For days I did not see the light of day, but heard the occasional chink as we were jostled in our box. The lid was opened suddenly and I saw a much greyer sky than I was used to. I was added to a display, and watched as bottles and cases were bought until finally, many months later, my turn came and I was part of a mixed case, sold to clear the way for new stock.
Again the journey, much shorter this time; again the display, here a wine-rack rather than the shop-window; again seeing my friends go before me. At last, I thought my time had come – I was taken from the rack. But no. Instead of being placed on the table in the dining room, I was put on the table in the hall. This was at least something new, but what next? I journeyed again, this time peeking out of a bag perfectly fitted for me. I was handed to someone else, amidst much hugging – and then I was forgotten by the door.
Here I stayed for a few days before being passed on again, this time with less ceremony. Over the next year I was to change hands 27 times. I was donated to four different fêtes over the summer. I listened to discussions by three different bookgroups. I was a house-warming present eight times. I have been so jostled around I am probably completely undrinkable.
In all my travels, the closest I came to absolute despair was the time when I was with some man who I had seen once or twice before. I hadn’t realised it, but he had clearly noticed me. Whilst most others simply reached for the nearest bottle and I had been unlucky, this pig carefully marked my label in an unobtrusive but unmistakable way. He talked to himself as he did it saying that he wondered if I would ever come back. Then, with cold calculation, he passed me on. I never saw him again.
What is wrong with you people? Can Merlot somehow have gone out of fashion?
© David Jesson, 2017