I think I'm set to become the grumpy old man who put the 'tank' in 'cantankerous'. I mean, what could be more jolly and festive than clinking glasses before drinking a toast? Well, nothing; it's a fine tradition, supposedly dating back to a time when hosts exchanged a little wine to show that it was not poisoned. But we used to just clink glasses with the people sitting next to us, and maybe raise our glass and exchange a smile with the people directly opposite. What's with this growing, obsessive compulsive need to clink glasses with everybody in the room? By the time it's finished everyone's forgotten what they were toasting in the first place, and it plays havoc with the Waterford crystal.
Food and wine critic Daniel Rogov believes it's passé and clumsy for everyone to clink glasses, arguing that only lovers should do it. I hope he's wrong about that last bit, or my brother-in-law and I will have to get a whole lot more intimate. Actually, I don't think it was ever appropriate for everyone at a large table to clink glasses. It's fine with a cosy foursome, but after that the number of clinks begin to get out of hand. A gathering of the Social Secretary's immediate family, for example, involves eleven people, requiring fifty-five clinks. As in my classy link diagram below.
If you imagine every line as a pair of outstretched arms, you get an idea of the general chaos. The choleric red blob at 8 o'clock is me. The multi-coloured blob in the middle of the table is a vase of flowers which sometimes doesn't get knocked over.