Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Barrel burial

The burial of the cask went swimmingly today, by which I mean it overflowed and erupted into a huge fountain, dousing warehouse manager Eric Stephen. Despite there being five photographers there, no one got a picture of this. But other than this slight miscalculation (the barrel used to transport the spirit was a little larger than the one we buried) everything was seamless. The hole was lined with the stones from the riverbed and the barrel was lowered in via forklift, bung-hole up. The barrel from the filling station (with uncut spirit, to help ensure a strong enough level of alcohol in a hundred years) was rolled in and a large pump was used to move the liquid from one to the other. We had a long green garden hose on hand in case it didn't work, and we had to siphon the old-fashioned way. The time capsule was added and the hole was filled with the remaining stones. We also underestimated how many of these we'd need, so Andy and Michael rushed off to the 'beach' to collect more in the truck.

One of the staff who was assisting us was a guy named Denis. He has an incredible accent, and a great way with words ("if someone needed help, ya just mucked in"). I knew that he was retiring this year so I asked him when his last day would be. Turns out it's today. "Oh", I said. "How long have you worked here?" He answered "Fifty years". Fifty fucking years. He asked if he could place one of the stones in the hole, and it felt like he was burying and saying goodbye to the larger part of his life. It was an unexpected poignant moment.

Eric is also leaving at the end of this year, after working for Glenfiddich for forty-five years. He started the year Andy was born. It was Eric's horse that we visited several times (pics on Flickr here) and he was the one who dug the hole for me, after I had returned home the first time. I am hugely indebted to him.

Despite a few local big news stories that day, we had a decent press turnout, all of whom sent photographers. I find doing press and being photographed fairly humiliating, especially with friends around. It's akin to having an objective bystander observe you flirting - it's kinda ugly. Plus I had to endure a series of photographer's requests like "hold up a glass like you're toasting the camera" or "just lean naturally against the barrel". Is it even possible to lean naturally against a barrel?

I really hate to leave Dufftown. It was bad enough leaving three weeks ago, but then I knew I was returning. There's something really calming about northern Scotland, and everyone is so incredibly sweet. Strangers wave to you as they drive by in their car. No one steals yer bike.

Luckily it was too busy a day to get sentimental. Michael Sanzone has an exhibition of the work he created during the residency this November, in NYC. Andy has plans to travel down to see it, and I'm hoping I can make it too. He was really prolific over the summer, and it'll be nice to see all the works together, and great to see them both again.

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