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Writings of Albert Morris
Article 117 - Youthful dreams of a Paradise Fruit afterlife

WHEN, to the sessions of sweet, silent thought, I summon up remembrance of things past, I realise that, although I have sometimes bitten off more than I could chew, when it came to the crunch, my life has been sweetened by a trove of treasures, toothsome but tough on dentist’s bills.

Here, try a sample from the Morris Box of Assorted Nice Days. Never mind the hard, outer shell suggestive of obdurate dedication to the Calvinistic work ethic; the centre is soft and a tastebud revelation of succulent sloth. Sometimes, fate will do me no flavours and I have days that are hard to swallow, perhaps caused by a sudden spurt of Inland Revenue interest in one’s affairs or a hyper-inflated council tax demand.

Generally, my life has been a mixed bag, ranging from cough pastilles that gave me a breath like a flamethrower, to coconut crisps, hinting of tropical decadence, and when I slip the surly bonds of this soor ploom planet, I hope to enter a big, rock-candy, lemon-drop, caramel-wafer heaven.

As a sucker for sweets, I was particularly interested in the news that Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar celebrates its 100th birthday this year. Its sales last year neared £320 million in the lucrative £2.6 billion British confectionery market and it is now Britain’s most popular chocolate bar.

Great brandy balls, I remember the bar well when I was in a sticky coagulation of mixed infant hard-boilings on classroom display who used to set on edge the teeth of our male teacher, an old, as they say in bad-mouthing Scotland, "sweetie wife".

THAT product was then beyond our pocket-money grasp, but there were Cadbury’s halfpenny and penny bars, and these we tackled with the feeding frenzy of locusts laying waste to the countryside. Oh, how we dreamt our blown bubblegum dreams, how, even after Sunday school, with its promise of a Paradise Fruit afterlife, we speculated on the existence of a nut fudge Nirvana and the security of supply of tablets handed down on high by indulgent parents and fond aunts.

Life then, for me and my sweet-grinding group, was something to be savoured, with the boys being introduced to the temptations of wine gums and the lip-dangling decadence of sweet cigarettes and the girls to the maternal mastication delights of jelly babies.

In that heady atmosphere, I had a sweetheart, tastefully decorated in a white blouse, black gymslip and black stockings who resembled a small, animated, liquorice allsort. I offered her my sherbet dab and a shard of furniture-glue toffee, apt to induce temporary lockjaw, but she was already toffee-nosed, had the walnut-whip-hand, refused to bite and the encounter was, alas, nugatory.

I remember, too, those sermonising, schismatic Sabbaths where the bells told of congregations split among secretive, acid drop suckers, those who braved the Hellfire of Victory V lozenges and Fisherman’s Friend pastilles and others who favoured the flavour - despite pagan hints - of pan drops. The combined exhalations doubtless excoriated sin wherever it lurked, and I remember joining in peppermint-fresh prayers directed celestially under marshmallow-cloud-shaped skies.

THEN there was the Dolly Mixture (once a well-known childhood sweet) at city dance halls where females were lined up like chocolate bars on shelves. Some, despite their physical allure and cosmetic charms, were hard-centred and known as "chewsy". They did not willingly submit to being picked like a praline from a packet by some young gobstopper, and, with biting sarcasm, would tell him to cut his milk teeth on someone else.

In my young, confectionary-rich, courting days, I bombarded girl friends with bon bons enrich-ed with bon mots and anything from double-strength butterscotch to enough Berwick Cockles to sink a battleship, from pear drops to Pontefract cakes and chocolates which I said, quoting an advertising blurb, had "centres like strange sins". They seldom made a favourable impression on the lasses, many of whom gazed at my offerings with astonished suspicion but efficiently worked through them in cinemas and theatres, making the rhythmic, rotary motions and sounds of efficient cement mixers.

Since then, I have eaten Babe Ruth candy in Boston, Hershey bars in Hollywood, sampled Belgian chocolates fit for an EC commissioner in Brussels, and tasted the sweetmeat exotica - from jujubes to jelly beans - of North African souks that satisfy confectionery cravings from the sweet-tooths of great sheiks to the tastebuds of the tented Tuareg.

In my essentially-biased opinion, British sweets, especially in chocolate texture and taste, have the world licked. So I salute Cadbury’s century-old bar and, while acknowledging the impressive counter attractions of the Mars Bar, Fry’s Chocolate Cream, KitKat, etc, wish it undiminished toothsome triumphs.

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