[this post was lost during a server failure on Sunday 11 July 2004; it was finally (partially) recovered on 12 October 2018]
Unable to find our corkscrew and wishing to open a bottle of wine, Paul and Claire had tried all kinds of tricks to dig out – or at least push right in – the cork, but with no success. When they weren’t looking, I used a screwdriver wrapped in a tea-towel to push the cork through. Then, with a marvellous bit of slight-of-hand, said that I’d seen somebody remove one by air pressure before, and slapped the top of the bottle, hard: then, looking almost surprised that it worked, showed them the bottle with the cork bobbing around on the surface of the wine.
Not for a moment did Paul or Claire suspect that I’d removed the cork by any other means than by striking the top of the bottle. How strong do they think I am? By my reckoning, to use something as relatively flat as a hand to produce enough air pressure to push a cork into a wine bottle would probably take sufficient force that the wine bottle itself would be likely to break.
Better than that, they then went on – I overheard – to explain my feat to Bryn when he appeared with the corkscrew he had …