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Artificial Joy

Last week was an odd one at work, with a number of changes that have been in motion for months now coming to fruition. For me not a lot changes, bar once more losing a lot of good work friends and making me feel a little bit like the boy stood on the burning deck (and yes, I did look up ‘Casabianca’ by Felicia Dorothea Hemans, because I needed to convince myself that was actually a real poem and not just a playground joke).

Anyway, I do not want to moan about work. No I’m actually in a positive mood after a weekend of fine beer at the St Albans Beer Festival which is an annual delight (although where we are going to put all those commemorative beer glasses is an increasing problem as they are starting to try and break out of the cabinet we keep them in as though our glassware had become possessed and is trying to escape, possibly because it feared that it may be forced to carry poor quality lager (guys – relax, no danger of that). Even better than the beer though was something last week that transported me instantly back to my childhood.

At the site celebration that marked the major changes here, among several other nice things to make the transition easier there were ice cream vans. Serving effectively unlimited ice cream, with a 99 flake… And not only a flake but they had flavoured sauce too. I of course went for raspberry, a lurid sugary thing of beauty adorning the white cone of ice cream. I do not think I have sampled this gloriously artificial delight (let’s be honest – we know that no fruit were hurt in the making of this product) for maybe twenty years. It was marvellous and tasted just as it should – i.e. like sweet red syrup should taste. I had to avoid the van for the rest of the afternoon to avoid a potential overdose.

It mad we wonder why some things just delight you, particularly things that were a treat as a child. My dear departed grandmother, in her final years, had largely given up on eating anything and as such was fading away before our eyes. But there were exceptions, things that she could still be tempted with. The things were aware of was the slightly conflicting mixture of treats formed of strawberries and the Christmas cake made by the Lovely Wife. The latter would keep her company for some weeks as she gradually worked her way through it to accompany the copious amounts of tea. I think that it is fairly certain that both these represent treats very rarely available in a hard and poor North East childhood – picked wild blackberries, if you could get to them first at least, would have bene the best you could hope for rather than something as exotic as strawberries. The richness of a Christmas cake is also something that even apart from the seasonal nature of it, would have been a rare delicacy. The little girl that she once was would have never passed up the possibility of a strawberry and neither did the dear lady that she became.

I really do not care about the additives in the raspberry sauce. It is such a rare occurrence for me to come into the company of the stuff that I think I will take the risk. It was a childhood treat and, as noted last week, sometimes I need to feel like a child, especially when some things may be hurting elsewhere in life.

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