“Have you ever heard of a tontine, BabyB?” It was OldRuin and I admitted that I hadn’t. “Quite simple, really. An agreement whereby a group of people hold assets together and as each one dies those left behind get what remains. Generally to do with annuities, you know.”
“Oh, I see,” I replied, not really seeing.
“Well, the reason I ask is that I was party to a tontine with three friends from university. We had no money back in those days and very rarely thought a great deal about the future. But despite that, when it came to our final term we used up all our savings to buy four bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothchild 1945. Said to be possibly the greatest vintage of the last century, you know.’ He paused before continuing. “One we drank on graduation and another after a tragically early death of one of our merry band in a skiing accident. The third was opened a couple of years ago after another passed away – a high court judge no less. Today, I have the unenviable task of opening the final bottle.”
“I’m sorry to hear that OldRuin. Very sorry indeed.”
He looked older than ever, as if he was surveying not just his own life but the whole span of his three companions’ lives as well. Their ups and downs, loves and losses. “Very kind of you to say BabyB. Really never thought it would be me. I was never the sporty healthy type you see. But you never can tell.” He paused again, wistfully, before turning to me and bringing forth a smile of happiness which looked as if it had suddenly appeared from his youth. “The whole point of the tontine, BabyB was to be able to share it with people for whom you care and I wondered if you and Claire would like to share this bottle with me today?”

Which is just what we will be doing later.

January 19, 2016 · Tim Kevan · One Comment
Posted in: Uncategorized

One Response

  1. Tony Rose - November 18, 2009

    Reminds me of an episode of MASH where Colonel Potter drinks a tontine toast with the Doctors….
    Still recycling is very green these days. 😉