The trouble with one red bottle

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The Independent Online

Other papers have wine correspondents, and whisky specialists, and beer writers, but no newspaper has ever introduced an advice column for those going to their local bottle bank.

Other papers have wine correspondents, and whisky specialists, and beer writers, but no newspaper has ever introduced an advice column for those going to their local bottle bank.

Until today.

So please welcome the world's leading expert on the etiquette, technique and mores of a visit to a bottle bank - Mr Justin Knotch. And the first question, please...?

Dear Mr Knotch, What is the correct way to insert a bottle into a bottle bank? I have seen some people throw it with great force, while others barely let it drop. Does it matter if the bottle breaks on impact? Should one be gentle? Do fragments of glass ever fly back through the hole? Have you ever personally been injured by putting a bottle into a bottle bank? Are bottle banks the same all over Britain? What is the best way to...?

Justin Knotch writes: Steady on there, mate! Strikes me you've been inhaling the old fumes of discarded bottles at your local bottle bank, and let them go to your head! So what say we just take those questions one at a time? Now, you ask me: What is the correct way to insert a bottle into the bank? What speed should you employ? Well, the speed is irrelevant. Drop it, throw it, propel it from a bazooka, it's all the same to a bottle bank. The one important crucial vital thing with bottle banks is - hold the bottle by the bottom end! Never hold it by the neck!

Dear Mr Knotch, Why?

Justin Knotch writes: Because as sure as eggs is eggs, there'll still be some wine left in the bottle, and if you hold it by the neck it will all run down your sleeve. We have a saying in our trade: "A man with a pink sleeve on a white shirt has sure as hell just been to the bottle bank!" It needs a bit of working on, but that's what we say.

Dear Mr Knotch, What is the correct thing to do if you have a bottle so big or oddly shaped it won't go through a normal bottle-bank hole? I had an empty Armagnac bottle the other day which simply wouldn't go in.

Justin Knotch writes: Some bottle banks have lids that lift up and let you put the bottle in the top. Failing that, put the bottle in a carrier bag and smash it, then pour the fragments into the bottle bank. Failing that, turn it into a lamp stand.

Dear Mr Knotch, What if you have a bottle of a colour which doesn't correspond to clear, green or brown? A black Cava bottle, for instance, or one of those bright red bottles you sometimes see?

Justin Knotch writes: Chuck everything doubtful in the brown hole. Brown is such a doubtful colour to start with, it doesn't really matter if you muck around with it.

Dear Mr Knotch, I am at present helping to demolish an old church, which is no longer needed, and very soon I shall have to tackle the problem of the disposal of the stained-glass windows. The easiest thing to do would be to put them bit by bit into my nearest bottle bank, obviously sorting them out by colour. But is there any need to deconsecrate glass before it is put in a bottle bank?

Justin Knotch writes: No, not at all. We quite happily chuck away beer bottles of monks' ale, like Chimay, or empty bottles of Benedictine or Chartreuse, and other drinks made in monasteries. I once saw a priest disposing of empty bottles of communion wine in a bottle bank, and he didn't utter any magic words as he did so, except to say, "Dear Lord, this one's still half full!" and put it to his lips.

Dear Mr Knotch, Why is it that people throwing bottles away are urged to sort them by colour - clear, brown and green - but people throwing newspapers away are under no such obligation? Why doesn't the green of the sporting editions, or the pink of The Financial Times , affect pulped paper in the same way that, presumably, green glass would affect clear glass when melted down?

Justin Knotch writes: I am afraid that is a question for a paper-bank specialist, not for me.

Miles Kington writes: Coming soon - the world's first paper-bank advice column!

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