I am not normally the type to spew vitriol. I try to wake up each day just a little less stupid than I was the day before and I honestly believe you have to make mistakes to learn a little.
But ever so occasionally the build-up of black bile becomes too much for even a melancholy soul such as mine.
We live in a country that we are constantly reminded is rightly proud of, and renowned for its sense of duty, its sense of fairness and fair play, its egalitarianism and support for the underdog. A country made great by its inventiveness and creativity, its bulldog spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. And, of course, by our mistrust of foreigners (especially the French) that is the trait of every island race.
Patriotism courses through our veins, but we understand the dangers of nationalism. It makes you feel good, doesn't it?
So in this Utopia, consider the position of the English winemaker. A classic case of the plucky underdog if ever there was one. Battling to produce wines through creativity and inventiveness, we now produce really world class wines ­ especially sparkling wines. That is not our opinion but the views of respected journalists and Masters of Wine whose business it is to know these things.
Not only has the quality changed, but also the price, great still whites retailing at £4.99 and offering up to 28% margin in spite of the Chancellor's best efforts to ruin our embryonic industry, and sparkling wines from £7.99 to make even the French blush with shame.
Consumers tell us they want English produce, that local is the new sourcing mantra, and Epicureanism from choice the route to consumer enlightenment and premium prices. It's the perfect background for an English company using unusual grapes to produce outstanding wines. And the enlightened retailers (Waitrose, Majestic and Safeway especially) benefit.
The nimble-minded and fleet of foot see the excitement of a unique proposition that can surprise and delight customers like no other. Fortunately for me, there are enough of these to keep my business growing very well.
But a different Britain emerges in other corporate offices. Here minimum margins of 40% are expected from under-trained, poorly motivated and bored unit managers' forced to sell dull and uninspiring ranges of wine with no differentiation. Then, in a search for differentiation, they offer their own range of almost mind-numbing dullness and from the usual provenances and grapes.
They ask for "exclusives" because they cannot make the numbers at regular pricing. They ask for "support" because there are no internal initiatives that can be self-funded. They ask for "listing fees" because they cannot take risks. They ask for "promotional activity" (price cuts presumably) because they haven't the wit to grow their customer base any other way.
It is a depressing picture because it flies in the face of every employee's gut feeling, every customer's wishes and every supplier's desire, and goes contrary to every value this country holds dear.
There is nothing wrong with conservatism, prudence, diligence, detail or profit. They are very sound retail values.
Napoleon, quoting Adam Smith's phrase that we are a "nation of shopkeepers", meant it as an insult. But it is only an insult when there is no room for other values such as creativity, fun, differentiation, exploration, risk and flair.
Some in the industry do understand this better than others. All stores stick up posters. Only a handful live the words, and they are the ones everyone wants to deal with.
So come on. Support English wine. Support English produce. Stop the homogenisation of our stores. Re-immerse yourself in our national values.
I promise it'll make you feel good.

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