How can you fail to be moved when a pea’s life is at stake?

... and now the contents of the food cupboard are talking to me

... and now the contents of the food cupboard are talking to me - Credit: Archant

I don’t know where this year’s gone,” is the despairing cry of menopausal and post-menopausal woman... this one at least.

I hover somewhere between the two; can’t make up my mind if I’m over it or not and can’t decide whether this sort of wavering is a symptom of continuing menopause or general indecisiveness.

But 2014 has flown. And I don’t say that only because I’ve lost my diary. It’s more about the speed at which life passes me by.

When I was young, a full-length staging of Hamlet would have had me squirming in my seat well before Act III; now, I could happily sit through Shakespeare’s lengthiest tragedy performed back-to-back with King Lear without once checking my watch, scratching or reading the programme notes during a big soliloquy.

Everything has happened so quickly. I barely had time to come to terms with my car insurance premium (due end of Feb as every insurance company in the realm appears to know, judging by the number of letters I get) before Easter is upon me. It’s all going by so fast... and yet so much of my brain is now consumed by unsolicited nonsense. One example, this week, was the label on a jar of Marks & Spencer mint jelly. I was washing it up prior to the embarrassing monthly trip, in disguise, to the bottle bank (headscarf; dark glasses). One day the people at the recycling centre (formerly the “dump”) are going to ask me if I’m a restaurant, so laden is my car boot with bottles.


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The label on the M&S jar says: “a dignified mint jelly”. Can a jelly be dignified? I suppose if it isn’t set it might be regarded as a bit undignified, lolling about all over the place. But in terms of demeanour, mint jelly tends to be neutral; neither angry nor placid, joyous nor sad, energetic nor indolent, law abiding nor criminal; indifferent nor interested.

There are adjectives that might apply; “minty,” immediately springs to mind. It has the ring of truth about it. It could also truthfully be called “sweet” or “an ideal accompaniment to lamb”... and I don’t mean the mint jelly plays guitar while the lamb sings.

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I’m not a fan of anthropomorphism. I don’t want my condiments imbued with human characteristics. I don’t want discreet salt, gregarious pepper or poised olive oil.

Marmite, I enjoy, but it is not my mate. Friends should be chosen carefully. Why would anyone wish to claim a relationship with a jar of yeast extract. Moreover, I should like to know why Marmite doesn’t stick so well to buttered toast as it used to. I mentioned this before and was met by incredulity but I have recently found a couple of people who agree with me. As far as I’m concerned this makes it conclusive. Three out of 30 million Britons (assuming the split between loving it and hating is about 50:50) can’t be wrong.

There used to be a tendency to apply human traits to foodstuffs in TV commercials, which, by the way, are the exception to the rule that everything moves more quickly when you get older. These tedium breaks get longer, especially now they include trailers for other programmes and have the sponsor’s mini-ad attached to both ends of the programme.

Those of you of a similar vintage to me will recall the TV commercial featuring a cannonball pea which tried to make it into a bag of Bird’s Eye garden peas but was rejected on the grounds of being too big (yes, even peas are victims of sizeism). Meanwhile, all the tender small peas bounced happily into the clutches of the giant frozen food company where, presumably, they were frozen to death. I resolved then and there that should I be reincarnated as a pea, I wanted to be a cannonball.

There was also an ad in which blackcurrants gaily skipped to meet a sticky end in the deadly embrace of Ribena cordial. Chilling.

We do not have commercials in which a woolly spring lamb gambols into an abbatoir bleating: “Wait for me, I’m delicious”. Yet ad companies assume we are unmoved by the perils of a pulse?

It’s like Quacker the tiny duckling in Tom and Jerry slipping his little wing trustingly into Tom’s waiting paw.

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