I live in a region whose prevailing culture rests on the seductive conviction that there is nothing to be done about life. Some of this aversion to progressive tampering derives from anticipating another life, often called the next, where all scores will be settled unfailingly in one’s favour, anyway; some, from a conditioned avoidance of labour; and some of it comes from the captive’s delectation of shared secular oppressions.
To sustain us through the meteorological amenities of our Summer, we turn often to New Orleans, a settlement in a marsh at the confluence of a fat and undisciplined Ganges and a torpid and polluted gulf, bubbling sultrily along as if there were nothing to be done about it, with Nova Scotia no more than a boarding pass away. This accounts, inter alia, for the philosophical acceptance by an apocalyptic Texan head of state toward the rinsing mystery of a destructive storm, to say nothing of the widespread indigenous erasure of the palate with peppers.
Yet if there is a lingua franca with which to reach these people it is, quite famously, distilled spirits, in which even the justifiable one - Scotch - can be trusted to weather the great crossing into the morass of New Orleans in Summer. I happened, therefore, to recommend a certain lighter brand of malt whisky to a friend visiting there for the season. This is a pale nectar, tempered for some years in casks of long experience of Sauternes, and his imaginative palate leapt at the suggestion with that underresearched zeal of taste for conforming to circumstances. I don’t know that he’ll try it, but he has still a youngster’s sense of what matters, and he’s been down there only a few days.