The unbearable lightness of being without chocolate

I had given up chocolate for Lent but, after a week, realised I had a duty to mankind to resume eating it.

Another couple of days and Britain would have been tabling a resolution at the United Nations demanding that, in the interests of world harmony, Lynne Mortimer desist all attempts to redraw her nutrional boundaries.

The fall-out from my menopause alone is enough to make passing schoolchildren dive for cover; cats cower in doorways; birds fall silent; babies whimper; my husband decide to work late.

Chocolate helps.

A Cadbury’s Twirl and/or (more often ‘and’) a mini-pack of Maltesers seems to ease the symptoms. The HRT is good but there’s nothing quite like the feel-good kick of naughty pleasures.

I don’t have many naughty pleasures left to resort to.

A lot of them just aren’t as pleasurable these days. Disco dancing, for example. There was a time I would have kicked off my shoes and danced from dusk till dawn. The diamante sparkled, the chiffon frothed and the jewellery glinted... and that was just the DJ.

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I would dance until the sweat clammed my clothes to my body. Unless your naughty pleasures are rather different to mine, taking pantihose off damp legs isn’t fun.

Nowadays, when the dance music strikes up at a wedding reception – normally the only place I encounter a disco – I look for the quiet room where I usually find like-minded grouches complaining that it’s impossible to hold any sort of decent conversation when your very skeleton is being rattled by House or Garage. And no, dear reader, there doesn’t appear to be a variety of dance called Shed or Outbuilding. I know this because I went onto a website so that I would not embarrass myself, terminologically speaking.

Moreover, I can now reveal that is more than one sort of House – deep house, electro, funky/club, hard, minimal/tech, progressive, Scouse (yes, really) semi-detached and terrace (no, not really).

As I sit in the Grumpy Corner with the other voluntary social outcasts, I am acutely aware that there are great-grannies successfully getting it on on the dancefloor. A legion of super-charged matriarchs drinking vodka shots and dancing, especially with young men.

I look on wistfully, hoping that one day I will join them with gay abandon. (Who’s she? Ed.)

Another lost naughty pleasure is a glass... all right, two... well, OK, three... of red wine on a Friday evening. It made the stresses of the working week melt into mellowness and, when I went to bed, sleep came easily. This was before the notorious Claret Calamity of 2007 when waking up in the wee small hours of Saturday morning, drenched in sweat and with a burning sensation in my throat, I realised I had developed an allergy to wine.

And so we move on to chocolate. And before you say, ‘But Lynne, haven’t you missed out one naughty pleasure?’ No, I haven’t. It is just as much fun as it always was, whatever it is.

Chocolate. It was really my friend Le-Anne’s fault. She told me she’d given up chocolate for Lent and lost half a stone. This sounded like a really easy way to lose some of my unsightly fat. (Insert your own joke here ........................................................).

So, I turned away from the chocolate drawer in the fridge – it’s supposed to be a salad drawer but I fill it with Cadbury’s – and set my willpower to maximum.

I managed pretty well for a day or two. Then I started to feel a bit irritable.

“The birds need feeding,” said my husband as the starlings shook the last crumbs from the feeder.

“Well, they’re not getting fruit pellets or meal worms,” I said spitefully, ready to deprive them of their favourite treats.

“I wish you’d eat some chocolate, Lynne.”

“I don’t need chocolate. I’m doing perfectly well without it, thank you very much.”

He struggles to find words. Words, that is, that won’t make me even snappier.

“Would you like a cup of tea, darling?” He says and is gone.

It was Forrest Gump who unaccountably described life as being like a box of chocolates, “you never know what you’re gonna get.” He obviously mislaid the little slip of paper that comes inside the box with the pictures and descriptions of the chocolates.

In fact, life is not like a box of chocolates; life is simply better with a box of chocolates.

After all (with apologies to WH Davies) What is this life if full of cares, we have no time to eat eclairs?