Saturday 1 November 2014

Chocs away as sweet dreams gone for another year

Published 06/01/2014 | 02:30

Brendan O'Connor

THE eating was like a monster. It grew and grew the more I fed it. Good habits were killed off in days as this juggernaut of eating took over everything. I haven't even been enjoying it in recent days. It has just become a compulsion, a never-ending need driving me to eat more and more things that I know won't satisfy me.

It was a duty. I had to finish the tin of Chocolate Kimberleys I had bought for me and me only. For me, they had lost all taste and texture by this point, but if you washed them down with milk they created a digestible enough sludge. Just as sawdust would if you washed it down with milk.

A Chocolate Kimberley is a supply-and-demand thing. Like all seasonal foods, you can now get them all year round but you really only get them in season, in their natural tins, at Christmas, and even at that they are a rarity because you have to share them. If you have a tin of them all to yourself they lose all value.

If you are not a middle-aged dad you are wondering what kind of weirdo has a tin of Chocolate Kimberley all to himself. If you are a middle-aged dad, you understand. You know that for our sanity we need to keep some things for ourselves. Because everything gets subsumed into the whole, whether it be your TV, your lovingly collected CDs, that second old jalopy that you got just for you so it wouldn't be full of car seats and discarded yogurt rice cakes, but it is anyway.

The tin of Chocolate Kimberleys was for me, a small modest corner of Christmas I could control, because no one else wanted them. I could eat three of them at a time any time of day or night.

I was like an alky who had decided to really let go, to drink in the mornings.

I eased into it from the start of December, but the first two weeks were really only a warm up. The second half of the month was when it all took on a life of its own. Throw in boozing and no exercise and it became chaos. And once discipline and habit break down you get this need to take it to the limits in the opposite direction. It becomes like a piece of performance art, where you feel you have to keep going, far beyond enjoyment, just to see how far it can go and what will happen.

It has layers. The backbone is meals. But some of them are eaten out and more and more of them involve potatoes, possibly of a few kinds, always starchy and buttery. These in themselves are enough to do damage. But layered over this is what we could roughly call the savoury in-betweeners. Cheese and crackers is a good one here. You have to have a bit of nice cheese around at Christmas. And when you've had a few crackers with camembert and can eat no more, then a bit of comte cleanses the palate, and stilton to finish off. And then you need something sweet.

Crisps are the other staple. You can always devour crisps, not matter how unhungry you are. And when else but Christmas can you sit around and eat three packets of Tayto at midday? And they have to be Tayto. None of your gourmet crisps at Christmas, though I ate them too. And more milk to wash it all down.

And then the third layer, the biscuit and cakes and sweets that are everywhere. Anyone you call to has Roses, at the least, and you can put away a dozen of those lads without even feeling it with a nice cup of tea. And, oh, the endless cups of tea when you're around the place with the kids, and one or six biscuits with all of them.

And now I can't stop. But I must. And hopefully writing this has disgusted me enough to do so. Back to work and routine now as well and shure hopefully I'll lose it as fast as I put it on and three weeks should fix the habits back. And it was worth it. But I've had enough for now, of never having enough.

Irish Independent

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