>It was all planned. Our monthly Wednesday-night catch-up fell on 18 February and we were good to go. Down to the City Wine Shop was the plan, browse the shelves, enlist the help of the staff to find ourselves a good Piedmontese wine, sit at the bar or outside overlooking Parliament, put the world to rights, and do our selected bottle proud.
Then, on 7 February, our world changed utterly. As the bushfires raged all around Melbourne, we got to work and didn’t look back. WBW, in fact everything else in life, took a back seat. We worked fourteen hours a day, fell into bed, did it all again the next morning.
Ten days in one of us saw the diary entry reminding us of our original date. We were still swamped in Red Cross operations but decided to make our best effort to meet that night for a few hours of normality amidst the madness.
City Wine Shop was too ambitious an objective: too far away even though it is only a couple of miles. We needed somewhere closer to the office.
In the end, we grabbed a couple of hours at a local restaurant, Rubicon, on Errol Street. It has recently changed hands and the food was average at best but we didn’t care.
Piedmontese wine was not in evidence on the limited wine list. No matter. We chose an old reliable, a bottle of 2006 Buckshot from Heathcote – nothing in common with the Piedmont region but the best we could do. That winery would have faced its own problems on 7 February. Much of Victoria’s wine industry has been seriously affected, with vineyards gone up in flames and a lot of what is left shrivelled in the intense heat.
We sat quietly and raised our glasses, to each other, to those much more deeply affected than us, to the future.