“Sod the wine, I want to suck on the writing. This man White is an instinctive writer, bloody rare to find one who actually pulls it off, as in still gets a meaning across with concision. Sharp arbitrage of speed and risk, closest thing I can think of to Cicero’s ‘motus continuum animi.’

Probably takes a drink or two to connect like that: he literally paints his senses on the page.”

DBC Pierre (Vernon God Little, Ludmila’s Broken English, Lights Out In Wonderland ... Winner: Booker prize; Whitbread prize; Bollinger Wodehouse Everyman prize; James Joyce Award from the Literary & Historical Society of University College Dublin)





08 January 2016


Treasures arise as I comb through the vast stack of boxes which may eventually become a usable archive of my life's work and play. Like this blurry beauty from the early 'nineties. It includes Howard Twelftree, the great gastronome and writer who died in 2013. He's on the left. Next is Zar Brooks, who was a slender chap back then. For a year or two I took him as a sort of unofficial apprentice in the wine racket, so he wouldn't have to practise law, which was his qualification. That's me in my second Chairman Mao era. Then comes the Eeste lawyer, Peter the Viking, whose expert advice Zar could use right now as he struggles with former business partners over brand names he invented. Like Peacock's Fan, which his former colleagues at Zonte's Footstep are claiming - in the Supreme Court - should be their property and not part of his current Dandelion Vineyards stable.

One of Brooks' brands is Cien Y Pico, which decks a suite of lovely old vine wines from Spain. For some reason they often make me yearn for a Cohiba, which were Fidel Castro's preferred brand of cigar before he kicked the habit.

Brooks famously worked at d'Arenberg in the 'nineties, where he pretty much invented the labelling style still pursued by Chester Osborn, in which unlikely and obscure, often utterly forgettable brand names decorate the front of the bottle, while the back label is a mess of microscopic nonsensical fly specks - in a font so small nobody can read it - which is usually an attempt to justify the name on the front. Brooks called these 'stage names'.  They certainly made d'Arenberg a great deal of money. 

Here's Twelftree again, below, with the then Eagle on the Hill co-owner Margie Gregg and the fat author, who was then almost twice his current weight.

The Howard Twelftree Award is made each year to honour Howard's life's work. It is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to South Australian cuisine. The inaugural recipient was Duncan Welgemoed, now of the brilliant Africola in The Botanic Hotel; the 2015 winner was Sharon Romeo, of Fino. Below is Milton Wordley's photograph of some of Howard's friends and colleagues discussing the award in Africola. I have no idea who took either of the Howard photographs above.

After a small group of Howard's friends spent a long year attempting to have the Adelaide City Council assist in mounting a plaque, in the famous Adelaide Central Market, to recognise his influence, they've now, with typical sensitivity, put the damned thing behind bars. Howard would giggle outwardly and seethe within at this patent idiocy. 

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