It’s not often that a news story makes me give an audible gasp, but one headline had me going: “What the actual…?”
No, not the return of David Cameron to the UK Government. Sure, it’s an out-and-out bonkers move to appoint as foreign secretary the fool who let the Brexit genie out of the bottle, but nothing the Tories do comes as a shock these days.
Nope, my cry of disbelief was in response to the news that Nestlé is cancelling Caramac bars.
Noooo! How else am I going to set my teeth on edge by coating them in a film of treacle-infused sugar?
To be honest, it was more of a nostalgia knee-jerk than an actual sense of loss. I would struggle to tell you the last time I scoffed a Caramac. Although I did set off on a mission to buy a heap of them for old times’ sake. (The wee local shop on Bridge Street, in case you’re on a Caramac hunt, too.)
The bars are just as a big as I remember from my childhood – and about 10 times as sweet as I recall. Such was the sugar rush, I was buzzing like a fridge by the time I had finished one.
Still, waiting to come down from that high gave me time to reflect on the lost sweeties of my youth.
Ah, Opal Fruits, how I miss you. And who didn’t put a whole pile of them in their gob at one time to make a big, sticky, melange of chemical-flavoured chews? See also Pacers, but they were a bit one-dimensional, being minty and all.
Oh, Spangles. How can you leave those out of your reminiscing about confectionery of yore – especially when the name became an inspired insult about the sort of fellow pupil you never wanted to sit next to you on a bus, but invariably did? Remember how the cola ones always left the roof of your mouth with wee cuts and blisters?
Back in the Golden Days of Sweets, health and safety was not really a notion. Take Lucky Tatties. This cinnamon-dusted splodge of rock-hard candy had wee plastic trinkets baked into it to discover as you broke your teeth on the solidified lava of sugar. The lucky part was about not choking on the hidden plastic booby traps.
One Christmas, my stocking included a chocolate ‘smoking set’ with matches, cigarettes, cigar and pipe. Ah, the innocence of youth
And never mind health and safety – what about non-PC sugar bombs? Do you remember candy cigarettes, complete with red dye on the tip, all the better to help six-year-olds pretend they were having a smoke?
One Christmas, my stocking included a chocolate “smoking set” with matches, cigarettes, cigar and pipe. Ah, the innocence of youth.
These days, my sweet tooth is more or less dormant, but when I’m looking for a sugar fix I usually turn to a childhood favourite. Still got to love Liquorice Allsorts, especially the wee aniseed buttons.
So, fingers crossed that nothing ever happens to Bertie Bassett – although I reckon he’d make a better foreign secretary than David Cameron.
On yer bike, Stonehaven
Just when I though Stonehaven couldn’t get any better, someone comes up with a wizard wheeze to turn it up to 11 for residents and visitors alike.
It means visitors can hop on two wheels, go exploring and discover the cool stuff around the Mearns for themselves, from the harbour to Dunnottar Castle and further afield.
This is still very much a town that attracts tourists, and offering bikes – and especially e-bikes – will make it even more attractive, particularly in the summer months when cruise passengers rock up in Stonehaven.
It’s such a great innovation from Bike Remedy that I’m surprised no one has done it in Stonehaven before.
It has also made me yearn for my old days of cycling hither and thither. It was a great way to get fit, get around and feel virtuous about not polluting the planet.
HG Wells put it best when he said: “Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” Although I did have my doubts about Lycra.
Sadly, I fell out of the cycling habit. But, now, I have the chance to try it out on my own doorstep to see if I can get back into biking, and maybe even get a bike of my own again.
And why not? Major cycling events have seen a boost in the number of people on bikes across the north-east. The e-bikes in Aberdeen are helping that trend. The network for cyclists can only get better over time.
So, perhaps this is the time to get back in the saddle. Although I still have my doubts about Lycra.
Scott Begbie is a journalist and editor, as well as PR and comms manager for Aberdeen Inspired