Five a day – Twirl, Kit Kat, Flake, Mars and Maltesers

It’s over . . . My six weeks of abstinence has ended and normal service is resumed. Being a woman of few vices (recently), finding something to forego for Lent was a challenge. No longer a smoker – 21 years tobacco-free, no longer a drinker – just the occasional glass of Prosecco, what else could I possibly give up?

(Too late for answers on a postcard or, in the case of my friend North Circular man, on a piece of lingerie, I’m afraid.)

I might have tried six weeks without deodorant but that would have been more of a sacrifice for people standing near me.

I could have gone 40 days without make-up (please, don’t scream). This was never an option. Occasionally, I have taken part in an early morning local radio show, usually talking about some television programme or another in my capacity as TV addict and second-in-charge of the remote. I was promoted from fourth after the kids left home.

The studio phones me at home but however early the hour, I absolutely cannot go on air without my slap.

I haven’t been seen out without make-up since 1970 when I ill-advisedly wore Biba Yellow 1 foundation, the cloggiest mascara I could find and dark brown lipstick. If an image of Night of the Living Dead has popped into your head, that’s about right. I looked halfway between a zombie and sulky teenager. (My mum says that’s a pretty accurate description of me at 15.)

What else could I give up? If it hadn’t been for the late Derek Nimmo’s memorable anecdote about the time he charitably picked a stray hair from a woman’s shoulder only to find it was attached to her cheek, I might have foreborne to pluck that pesky hair out of my chin for Lent.

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No, the only thing that was going to truly hurt was giving up chocolate.

Before this choc-free marathon (or should that be Snickers), I don’t believe I had ever gone more than a couple of days without a fix.

It was a long, agonising haul but I made it. So, after the whole of Lent without the velvet nectar, has it been worth it?

Let’s look at the facts. How much weight have I lost? None.

How much clearer and more beautiful is my complexion? Not.

I’m a bit bigger and a bit spottier.

Was the lack of health benefit down to the shock news, tauntingly timed part-way through Lent, that eating chocolate can actually aid weight loss or was it because of my chocolate displacement therapy – large quantities of bread and butter?

My cocoa bean withdrawal was also more acute because, having publicly announced I was giving up chocolate for Lent, everyone was watching me.

A baking contest at work yielded a mountain of chocolate cakes and brownies (the squishy edible ones, not the small girls in uniform). After judging, they went on sale and I carefully chose a slab of orange cake with inch-deep fondant topping. But oh, what was this? A fine, decorative tracery of chocolate icing was piped on to the surface. My colleagues stood over me as I picked off every speck.

My chocolate-deprived state affected my sleep. I was restless and thrashed about in the night. I woke up in the mornings with my nightie tightly corkscrewed around me, cutting off the blood supply to my legs. Meanwhile my husband, still immersed in Max Hasting’s huge volume about the Second World War, was cut off by the Siege of Leningrad.

My famously sunny personality (Who told you that? Ed) was cloudier. But at last the end was in sight. A few days before Easter, Le-Anne, without whose encouragement and support I would not have stayed the course, rewarded me with... yes, you’ve guessed it, a chocolate egg.

I put it in the bottom of the wardrobe with the others; 12 of them.

Not resolute enough to shun chocolate altogether, rather than eat it, I stockpiled. I’m surprised the price of a barrel of chocolate on the Willy Wonka index didn’t rocket.

Easter Sunday was Chocolate Day. I drew a diagonal line through the date on my year planner. Nothing but nothing was going to interfere with my plans for the day which, briefly, were:

Breakfast: chocolate egg (Twirl)

Elevenses: chocolate egg (Maltesers)

Lunch: chocolate egg (Dairy Milk)

Tea: chocolate egg (Cadbury’s Creme)

Supper: ham salad (I didn’t want to be silly about it)

By the end of breakfast on Easter Sunday, I was already a nicer person. By lunchtime I was over the moon... Mars, Milky Way, Galaxy... all of them now within my reach.