Sweet Memories

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With my kids’ remaining Easter eggs temptingly whispering “eat me” every time I enter the living room, it is hardly surprising that my  thoughts have centred around chocolate in the last few days. One of the reasons their stash has managed to stay in tact is that none of it is my favourite dark chocolate. Another reason is that the Cadbury’s chocolate (the only milk chocolate I do like) they have just doesn’t taste the same any more. This started me thinking about the goodies I used to love as a kid, which are no longer with us.

The most lamented chocolate bar of my past has got to be the Texan Bar. Their advertising slogan may well have been “a man’s gotta chew what a man’s gotta chew”, but that didn’t deter us girls from chomping our way through these delicious bars. The tougher ones amongst us would put our Texan Bars in the fridge, which, although it gave us the benefit of the bars lasting longer, also meant we ran the risk of extracting our own teeth in the process! I obviously liked to live life on the edge, as another of my favourites were Toffos – the original ones though, none of the flavoured types that followed. Again, the fridge improved and prolonged the enjoyment of these treats. Which reminds me, who remembers Treets? They were a crispy shell and chocolate (a bit like Minstrels) with either toffee (pale blue packet) or peanut (yellow packet) in the middle. Unsurprisingly, I loved the toffee ones, but I couldn’t stand the peanut ones. They were almost as bad as the peanut Revels you used to get. I don’t think you can get peanut Revels any more, but I stopped buying Revels when they withdrew the coconut ones, so can’t be certain. The withdrawal of the coconut Revel, in favour of the coffee one (which tastes like no coffee I’ve ever tasted) meant the odds of me finding one I liked were too greatly diminished to run the risk of an encounter with the vile orange ones – chocolate Russian roulette!

Although increasingly hard to find, one of my favourite chocolate bars from childhood is still with us, the dark chocolate Bounty bar. They may no longer come with the waxed, black cardboard tray of yore, and they are almost certainly smaller (as are Mars bars, Milky Ways, Wagon Wheels, etc.), but they are hanging on in there. I have my campaign ready, should the red wrapper Bounty show signs of disappearing. We’ve already lost one coconut chocolate bar, the Cabana (although not quite as nice as Bounty, due to it only being available in milk chocolate, the Cabana had the added bonus of cherry pieces in the coconut filling), and can ill afford to lose another. The Wispa bar was retrieved from the jaws of oblivion, so I’m just erring on the side of caution before matters get that far.

So, whilst I consider my possible vocation as a chocolate revolutionary, lest my favourite chocolate bar go the way of the Golden Cup, take a moment to remember your favourite sweet treats of the past. I would love to know what they were…

 

Hillsborough Remembered…

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Whilst I have a lot of happy memories of the Eighties, today marks the 25th anniversary of one of the most tragic events, and the saddest memory I have of the decade. Few will have failed to notice that it was 25 years ago today that 96 fans of Liverpool F.C. lost their lives at Sheffield Wednesday’s Hillsborough Stadium. For those of us who remember that fateful Saturday, our compassion and sympathy seem inadequately hollow, alongside the pain still felt by those haunted by memories of that day. Speaking to the BBC today, Bruce Grobbelaar recalls “It all happened right behind my goal. I can see those images today, if I think about it. They will never leave. It doesn’t get removed from your mind. I will never forget.” Perhaps those who have continued to spout vile comments, based on lies, online today should listen to those who were actually there.

Despite being born and bred in Kent, I have been a Liverpool supporter for as long as I can remember, probably due to my Nan, who was also an ardent fan. In 1986, thanks to Smash Hits magazine, I gained a Scouse penfriend, John. He came to visit me at the end of that year, along with a few of his friends. It was the first of many meetings between us, both down south (or France, as they refer to Kent!) and up north (I can remember the first time we took the ferry ‘cross the Mersey like it was yesterday) and the beginning of a number of friendships that have stood the test of time. As with all good friendships, they became part of the family – my Nan was never happier than in the company of her “Liverpool Lads”. It has continued through the generations too, as Wayne (the only one old enough to drive on that initial visit) is godfather to my son.

Both Wayne and John would regularly attend Liverpool’s matches, so when news of the disaster broke on 15th April 1989, I was desperate to know they were safe. These were the days before social media provided a second by second commentary on the world, and I sat glued to the television screen, in a state of disbelief at the scenes we were being shown. At one point, the camera honed in on part of the crowd being crushed against the fence. I was convinced I had seen John in that crowd. I have no coherent memory of the day after that, and cannot recall how I came to discover that neither Wayne nor John had been at the match. It’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to probe – just knowing they were safe was enough.

The family and friends of those who died that day were not as fortunate, and it is with them that my thoughts are today, as they are every time I hear  “You’ll Never Walk Alone” being sung. Let us hope that the current inquest, being held in Warrington, will eventually show the world the truth about the tragedy, and there will finally be Justice For The 96.

 

R.I.P. Peaches Geldof

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I have never made a secret of my fondness for the Geldof family. Bob Geldof and Paula Yates moved to my home town shortly before the birth of their first daughter, Fifi Trixibelle in 1983, and soon became a familiar sight around town, as well as an integral part of our community. The affectionate relationship between the family and the people of Faversham was detailed by Paula in her 1993 book “Village People”, and was never more prevalent than when the Geldofs would hold the annual fête in the grounds of their priory home. We would rub shoulders with the likes of Sting and Lulu, whilst waiting to see who had won the prize for best Victoria sponge!

Having previously married in Las Vegas, the couple renewed their vows in the church that formed part of their priory, in 1986. We then saw Paula bloom through her two subsequent pregnancies, whilst still Mrs Geldof, and watched Fifi, Peaches and Pixie grow up. It is therefore, with great sadness, that I write on the passing of the Geldof’s middle daughter, 25 year old Peaches Honeyblossom.

Already, there has been much speculation as to the circumstances surrounding Peaches’ death, and no doubt there will be further hypotheses in the days and weeks to come. Indeed, the media circus that surrounded the death of Ms Yates in 2000, will undoubtedly pale into insignificance, in the forthcoming reporting of her daughter’s death. Comparisons between the two tragedies have already surfaced, and events from the family’s past again dredged up, with no concern for those they may hurt. Let us not forget that at the centre of all this is a family “fractured so often, but never broken”. No one has the right to compound that fracture by perpetuating idle ruminations or by the exposure of events best forgotten. The failure to leave the past where it belongs will only serve to exacerbate a unbearably painful situation for those who loved, and were loved by, Peaches.

Prior to this devastating news, I had begun to write a piece about Paula Yates, which would have been published later this month, to coincide with what would have been her 55th birthday, on 24th April. I had written that Paula was “the blonde who defied the stereotype. Unconventional and controversial, with a remarkable wit and intellect, surpassed only by her love for her children. Her untimely demise was a tragic loss for all who knew her.” Who could have guessed the same would apply to her daughter just days after it had been written?

I end this post with the words of the man who has seen more than his share of adversity and heartache, yet continues to be the rock upon which the rest of the family will lean. Bob, our heartfelt sympathies are with you all.

The statement released by Bob Geldof today:

“Peaches has died. We are beyond pain.

“She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us.

“Writing ‘was’ destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child. How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable?

“We loved her and will cherish her forever. How sad that sentence is.

“Tom and her sons Astala and Phaedra will always belong in our family, fractured so often, but never broken.

“Bob, Jeanne, Fifi, Pixie and Tiger Geldof.”