A 20-question interview with Red Squirrel Wine founder Nik Darlington
The Steeple Times shares “wit and wisdom”. What’s your guiding force?
Professionally speaking, finding memorable wines that people want to talk about. If we’re thinking deep and meaningful lodestars, then never being bored. Chesterton said there are no uninteresting things, just uninterested people. Don’t be one of those people.
“Don’t get even, get medieval” is, in our humble opinion, a great motto. What’s yours?
“Don’t drink alike”. Beverages aside: “Never stop learning, question everything”.
Kerry Katona was considered unacceptable in 2007. Who or what is unacceptable in 2016?
Men doing up the top button of a shirt without a necktie.
Tony Blair misses being Prime Minister. What do you miss most in your life?
The comfort blanket certitudes of youth.
What might you swap all your wealth for?
Donald Trump was once a case of: “If you owe the bank a thousand, they close you down; but if you owe the bank a billion, you own the bank”. What’s your view on the banking crisis?
If I may be self-serving, then rose-tinted: I bought my house in July 2009.
What phrase or word do you most loathe?
“In all honesty”: My prep school English teacher taught me never to trust someone who prefaces a sentence with “in all honesty” or words to that effect.
In the UK, some people consider charity to “begin at home”. What’s your view and what causes do you personally support?
A lot of prominent charity these days seems to be more about identity politics. Nevertheless, the vast majority of charitable giving remains among the most powerful means of improving lives and conditions, whether at home or abroad. I make regular contributions to a few charities, mainly conservation or environmental, as well as the Alzheimer’s Society.
The judge in Law Abiding Citizen states: “I can pretty much do whatever I want” before being blown up whilst answering her mobile phone. What’s your view on the appropriate use of such devices?
Bombs or phones?
If you could fill a carriage on The Orient Express, who would be your fellow passengers?
My nearest and dearest… And Hercule Poirot, just in case.
If you were unfortunate enough to end up on death row, what would be your last meal and where would you eat it?
I would request a simple braai with game, then the freshest tropical frui. I’d enjoy this sat atop a ridge outside Graaff-Reinet overlooking the Valley of Desolation at sunset.
What time is it acceptable to consume the first drink of the day?
Moscato d’Asti at breakfast. At the cricket, a jar of ale at eleven o’clock.
A Negroni, a martini or a cup of tea?
A Negroni. I spill martinis and can’t abide paying for cups of tea unless it’s that stuff that comes as a powder.
Whose parties do you enjoy the most and why?
Mine, because I pick the wine.
Who is the most positive person you know?
My dog, Amber.
What’s your most guilty pleasure?
Singing competitions on the telly. You don’t need twenty questions to guess which.
If a tattoo were to sum you up, what would it be of?
A fairly simple, traditional Polynesian armband. I spent a lot of time travelling and working in the South Pacific and will always have a soft spot for Samoa in particular. When searching out an ancient temple in the forests of Savai’i my vehicle got snagged in thick undergrowth. On a hot Sunday afternoon. In the most observantly Christian island in the South Seas. Just over a mile away I found a small, sleepy village and in a mixture of broken English and Samoan managed to assemble a group of young men led by a genial old buffer called Tupe. They not only saved my car, but led me directly to the temple, whereupon Tupe stripped down to his birthday suit to reveal an intricate tattoo from waist to ankle, buttocks and all. I may not go the full hog, but a small armband would be in memory of that small, uncalled-for act of kindness.
If you were a car, what marque would you be?
I really know very little about cars. Does a Series III Defender count?
Cilla Black presented Surprise, Surprise. Tell us the most surprising thing about you.
I’ve worked as a scuba diving instructor in Australia and Samoa.
What’s currently sitting on your mantelpiece?
Wedding invitations and some dried lavender.
Nik Darlington began his career in politics and journalism before setting up Red Squirrel Wine in 2012. The company has morphed from being a small online retailer to being one of the fastest growing wine importers and distributors in the UK.
Follow him on Twitter at @NikDarlington.
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