“I’d like to take you up the Reichstag on Valentine’s Day,” murmured my husband.
I stared at him.
“Fond as I am of a magnificent erection, I’d prefer it if we just stuck to the usual?”
He stared back at me.
“You mean I have to visit the Fortnum and Mason website and spend a shed load of money on Violet Creams?”
“Absolutely. Valentine’s Day is the one day in the calendar when I feel it completely legitimate to get my mouth around anything of my choosing, entirely guilt free and I don’t want you spoiling it with post modern German edifices!”
Yes, February 14th looms and, along with Christmas and my birthday, I feel it is completely legitimate to spend £38.50 (plus p&p) on a tray of chocolates because in this way I can pleasure myself and I think that’s what the day is for, right?
My mouth is a source of constant pleasure to me. From time to time it has been the source of pleasure for others too.
Mouths are really important and we need to be judicious about what we put in them (I always wash my thumb before I suck it. Rule No. 1 about sucking body parts).
And here’s the rub. I put a lot of stuff in my mouth that I really would be better off avoiding:
Ginger nuts for a start. And Chocolate Fingers.
But also Bourbons, Lemon Puffs, Garibaldis, Iced Gems… and even Fig Rolls. Yep, I can go through the biscuit tin leaving nothing untasted.
I have breakfasted on Angel Cake and dined on Battenberg.
I have a sweet tooth.
I’m not sure where my sweet tooth came from. My parents were vibrant, image-conscious types who, unusually for East End working class folk, eschewed white bread and crisps and instead embraced wholemeal everything with plenty of leaves.
Sounds good? Not if you’re taking a packed lunch to school.
My lunch box was filled with brown bread sandwiches, sunflower seeds, raisins and Tiger nuts. If I’d have asked for a packet of Monster Munch, I think my dad would have broken out in a rash. Nobody ever asked to swap any of the contents of my lunch for theirs.
I remember going to the baker’s in Poplar, East London, with my dad. He asked for a bran loaf. The serving girl handed over a wholemeal bloomer.
“No, I’d like a bran loaf,” my father insisted.
She looked at him stupefied and then looked back at the loaf she’d given him.
“That is a brahn loaf!” She said in loud cockney tones as she pointed at the two batches behind her. “White loaves, brahn loaves?”
Dad gave up.
I rarely saw my parents eat sweet things.
My mum has been eight and a half stone all her life. These days the weight is distributed a little differently but she has always been of the ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ philosophy.
“I’ve never had a problem with my weight,” my mum boasts regularly. “I kept on top of it. Your Auntie Brenda and I used to get diet pills from the doctor. They used to make us talk a lot.”
I nod my head wearily and try to explain that she lived on a diet of oranges and amphetamines and this is not a healthy way to maintain weight.
I am well educated about food. I take lots of exercise. I enjoy fitting easily into clothes and not crying in changing rooms. I am mildly obsessive about numbers on the scales. And yet…
My love of sugar feels like a weakness and I share it only with close allies.
There is a new clamp down on sugar; the media are constantly berating it and handsome doctors are smiling at us on the telly trying to persuade us that a bowl of porridge and blueberries is far more sustaining than a Wispa bar or (my personal favourite) an eight inch length of strawberry cable.
Of course it is! But sustaining isn’t the point! It’s all about mouth feel! And that hit of sweetness! Get over yourself handsome Dr Xand Van Tulleken, because just sometimes wrong is right!
There are plenty of times when I’ll forgo an actual meal of bloody rice and lean protein and green and orange things in favour of a bag of Pick ’n’ Mix.
And I have never undertaken a weight loss programme (formerly known as a ‘diet’) which didn’t allow me to suck on a Freddo at least once a day.
Valentine’s Day approaches and we’ve compromised. He gets to take me up the Reichstag and we both indulge in chocolate kisses.