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Uncorked: Life goes on

Published:  18 January, 2007

The team at Harpers, and, we have no doubt, our readers, are passionate about the industry of which we are part. We find the drinks trade fascinating, its products, by and large, a joy. And yet, last Thursday morning, as the gravity of the situation
in London began to filter through to our desks in Swanley, it was difficult to work up much enthusiasm for our work. The nitty-gritty of marketing, production and boardroom machinations can only ever appear trivial, when one is not sure if one's loved ones are alive or dead.

So it was with an uncharacteristic listlessness that I began to leaf through the proofs for Margaret Rand's interview with our cover star', Joseph Berkmann that afternoon. What, I wondered, could a septuagenarian restaurateur and wine merchant have to say to shake me out of my sombre mood? What nuggets of wisdom could someone whose life has been devoted to the frivolous pursuits of fine wine and dining offer on such a black day?

Well, the surprising answer perhaps - as you'll also find if you turn to page 16 - was plenty. As a man who grew up amid the ruins and chaos of post-war Austria, Joseph knows all about perspective. I learnt that there is no guarantee,' he says, health, property mean nothing. The only guarantee is what you can do It comes with the way I was brought up in the war. It gives you fatalism. You'll get what's coming, so in the meantime you should do what you want to do.' In Harpers' view, adhering to Joseph's philosophy would be the best way for the drinks trade to prove to the people behind last week's atrocities that they will never win.