When the exotic fruits were only in the bathroom
PUBLISHED: 20:59 14 January 2019
Okay, I’ve already said I’m not going vegan but given the chance to be seasonally hairy... bring it on
They pile it on thick, don’t they?
I am talking about the people who are forever wanting us to join in with things. They are usually very jolly and very committed and can be extremely tiring. Meanwhile, I am quite glum, non-committal and extremely tired.
As well as the pressure (which I have resisted) to take exercise, I also feel embattled by Veganuary, especially when eating a bad-girl bacon sandwich, and now Januhairy – where did that come from?
The idea is we, mainly women I presume, should allow their body hair to run rampant in January, thus Januhairy. Unusually, I’m ahead of the game with this one. My generation tends to be meticulous with its personal grooming in the summer but lets it all run amok in the winter, on the basis that no-one is going to see your armpits or legs in the cold months. Indeed, a bit of hair coverage can be a positive advantage when it’s icy... something about warming up by increasing your surface area, or is that just birds plumping up their feathers?
I will be tweezing the odd bristle from my chin, however. There’s hairy and then there’s bearded.
Oh, and we mustn’t forget dry January. By February 1 we could be a nation of lentil-munching, alcohol-free, hairy-armpitters.
I think it’s best to ignore variations of January and stick with what you know – casserole and dumplings, thermal vests, 15 tog duvet, comfort food... speaking of which I am amazed to find that Angel Delight still exists. I had consigned it to the dustbin of culinary history, yet it is still out there in strawberry, butterscotch, chocolate, banana and chocolate mint varieties. We always had strawberry but got carried away with excitement when butterscotch came out, only to decide we liked strawberry best.
Angel Delight was launched in 1967 by the Bird’s company, with a Strawberries and Cream flavour. Before this, and you’ll need to be about as old as me to remember it, was Bird’s Instant Whip, a precursor of Angel Delight but with a more utilitarian name. You whipped it up for an instant dessert, simple. It arrived in the mid-50s and disappeared around 2004.
Desserts in the mid-20th century were not exotic. We had jelly, milk jelly, blancmange, steamed syrup sponge, apple pie, crumbles, and banana custard... none of your gateaux, profiteroles or cheesecake. As for yogurt, I always thought the hazelnut flavour was the terribly sophisticated. Tinned peaches with tinned cream was a Sunday treat.
School dinners brought a wider range of delights – pink custard, semolina, chocolate crunch, apple pie with raisins in it, and rice pudding with added splodges of jam that came in an impossible shade of red.
And talking of colours, my husband and I were discussing the 1970s after he read a newspaper column by a millennial who advances the theory that Jeremy Corbyn wants to take us back to the 1970s (personally, my favourite decade).
“But we didn’t have avocados, did we,” I reflected.
“Yes we did,” replied my husband triumphantly. “In bathroom suites.” Ah yes, the avocado bathroom suite. The pinnacle of modern, middle-class living. We may have never eaten an avocado but we bathed in it. With the benefit of hindsight, the hue was more than avocado – it was avocado plus.
“Do you remember the pink suite my dad had in his bungalow?” he continued.
“Yes.” Who could forget that heavy pinkness that reflected on to the ceiling?
“That was ‘flamingo’,” he told me with a nod.
Ah yes, it was more than just pink. There was also an intense beige that took a similar tropical theme; pampas. It was all very tropical. Our bath was white... but we did have a cactus on the windowsill.
Apart from the colour of bathrooms, brown and orange kitchens and matching outfits (as seen in my 1978 wedding photographs), there was much to commend the ’70s – although I would be sad to lose avocado pears.
My dear friend, Dorinda, sympathised with my tale of being useless in the school gym. “I thought I was the only girl who hung on the bottom of the rope, unable to make any progress whatsoever, who couldn’t catch or hit a ball, was unable to execute a cartwheel or a handstand and never, ever got picked to be on anyone’s team. One of the great things about getting old is not having to do any of that stuff.”
So far, I had been nodding benignly but then: “On the subject of exercise, may I recommend an exercise cycle...”
I replied immediately to the effect that this was the sort of talk that brings me out in hives.
Dorinda conceded the point and then talked instead about spring cleaning! I shall be leaving this horror until March 21... although I’m not sure which year as yet.
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