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Why do I always fancy Toblerone at Airports?

Life holds many mysteries. I am fortunate enough to travel quite frequently and consequently find myself at airports a number of times per year. You may, like me, have noticed that Toblerones always seem to be on sale in Duty Free in bars about seven feet long. Whereas I normally don’t give them a second glance, in an airport I have seriously considered buying one of the whoppers and scoffing the lot in one go. So why do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? I wrote a poem on the subject and sent it to Toblerone along with the following letter. Maybe they’ll make me a Toblerone Ambassador or something. I’ll post their response if and when it comes.

Dear Mr Toby LeRone

Allow me to cut to the chase. Why do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? Although I’m certain your bars of three-dimensional triangular confectionary joy are delicious in any circumstance, I have to confess that, upon a visit to a local grocery store or major supermarket, I never give Toblerone a second glance. When in an airport though, I become a pale, drooling, slightly-hysterical Toblerone addict. I truly believe I could buy one of the massive ones and scoff the lot in Duty Free. Why should this be? Have Toblerone discovered an ingredient which triggers psychological chocolate and nougat addiction when the consumer is dragging a wheely-suitcase? Sounds improbable but I am struggling to find any other explanation. This baffling mystery has become an all-consuming preoccupation so, by means of therapy, I have written a poem which I thought I would share with you. It is called Why, Oh Why, Oh Why Do I Always Fancy Toblerone at Airports? You can rap it if you like. I hope you enjoy it.

Why, oh why, oh why, do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? (repeat ad. lib.)

Airport security – a sea of faces
Doing up my belt and tying up my laces
Wondering why I giggle when the burly man frisks me
Pass through the watches, the perfumes and whiskey
But there’s one display, which takes full control
I’m pulled towards it, like a massive black hole
Three for a tenner! Who could decline?
Those chunks of confectionary, with wrapping so refined.
Dark choc, milk choc, or white for the radical
My health-food drive, will take a sabbatical
Why do they sell them, in bars a metre long?
I could scoff the lot, though I know it is wrong
Are you isosceles, or even equilateral
But that much confectionary, is hardly practical
But in the world’s airports, I could eat one or more
Standing in the duty free, drooling on the polished floor.

But why, oh why, oh why, do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? (repeat ad. lib.)

In the local Co-op, there’s no arguments or bickers,
Could be a Mars Bar, or even a Snickers,
A classic Flake, goes down a dream,
Feeling Old School? A Fry’s Mint Cream!
Those honeycomb wonders, which are Maltesers,
A whole tube of Rolos, should the need seize us,
But the golden triangle – out of the question,
Grab myself a Toblerone? What a suggestion!
Revels, Minstrels, will you make a pick for us?
The three-sided wonder? Don’t be so ridiculous,
A classic Double Decker, or maybe a Wispa
Something crunchy, like a Toffee Crisp(a)
But Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton or Stanstead,
The thought of a Toblerone, won’t get out of my head
Little bits of nougat (I used to call it ‘nugget’)
Chocolate powder, sugar, I’m sure I could chug it.

But why, oh why, oh why, do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? (repeat ad. lib.)

Dan is the author of Extracting Goats from Jean-Claude’s Kitchen, published by Kellan Publishing.

Annoying bits of sticky stuff, in between my teeth,
But the need to scoff a massive one, goes beyond belief,
You once made bigger gaps, between your lofty peaks,
Confess it Toblerone, you’re a choccie cheat,
But I forgive you, your sugary charms,
Are always more than welcome, in my outstretched arms,
But only if I’m about, to set off on my travels,
Then your shiny paper, I’m desperate to unravel,
Going on holiday, about to take a flight,
Then the need to devour you, is one I cannot fight,
The weighty temptation, is impossible to bear,
Despite the threat, of the dentist’s chair,
But any other time, like when I’m eating al fresco,
Browsing the confectionary in my local Tesco,
I won’t give you, a fleeting cursory glance,
Buy a cocoa pyramid? Not a bloomin’ chance!)

But why, oh why, oh why, do I always fancy Toblerone at airports? (repeat ad. lib.)

Dan Jones October 2018

P.S. Since publishing my ditty on social media, a number of friends have purchased me Toblerone bars as whimsical gifts (see the handy attached photo). You may wish to pop that into the equation if you are considering sending me something in recognition of my efforts in marketing your brand.

Barbie the feminist?!

There can be few things more desirable in our society than gender equality but is the solution really to buy your child a doll still sporting more than a few traditional stereotypes? I’d suggest that parental support, hard study and equality of opportunity in the real world may be a little more important. I wrote to Mattel Inc (via their ‘Barbie’ Facebook page) to ask them to back up the claims offered by their Christmas ad campaign with a few guarantees. Here’s the note. I’m still awaiting a response…

Dear Mr/Mrs Mattel I am writing regarding your recent television advert showing several young girls, perhaps only five or six years of age, undertaking roles which were certainly surprising in my book, but what do I know! The sight of mere infants, training a deferential All-Blacks rugby team, delivering a lecture in a purpose-built theatre and taking tourists on an informative tour at The Natural History Museum was inspiring and indeed moving. I must confess to having been forced to wipe away a little tear (and a globule of snot) at their compelling and authoritative displays (handy screenshots are attached).

As the father of ‘Chantel’ a girl of a similar age, living in Barnsley, the only logical course of action in my mind was to buy her a Barbie doll and to encourage both her, as well as her hyperactive brother Zak to play ‘University Lecturers’ with it. My purchase emptied my wallet of a not-inconsequential sum of cash but, as I was investing in my daughter’s future, and hopefully ensuring that my offspring do not, like me, end up working nights in a sausage meat factory, I felt that I could get by with just a six-pack of John Smith’s this weekend. At first all seemed to be going well. Zak’s Power Ranger figures were sat attentively in the back row, with his Action Men placed securely at their desks at the opposite side of the arena (made from an upturned baby’s cot – don’t you think there’s a certain symbolism there).

Barbie, ready for ‘study’.

I left them to it, slipping off quietly to catch the semi-final of the darts on Sky Sports, but worryingly, after only three legs of arrows, all hell was breaking loose upstairs. It seems the problem arose when Barbie wanted to ‘change her baby’s nappy and put her to bed with Fifi the bunny’. My daughter had asked ‘Ken’ if he would read baby a story but he had been abducted by ‘gripping hands’ Action Man and was having camouflage paint applied to his cheeks whilst being tooled up with an AK47. With some diplomatic, albeit stern words, I rectified the situation (with promises of sweets and an extra ten minutes on the X-Box if they would play Daddy’s nice game for a little longer) but the respite was only temporary. Just as Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor was eyeing up double tops, it all kicked off again. Upon vigorous questioning, I learned that my daughter had insisted on restoring Ken to his previous kindly and unpainted self and, upon my entry into Chantel’s room, he was accompanying Barbie down the aisle – the lectern now doubling as a church altar. Barbie’s lecture notes had been reorganised to form a makeshift wedding dress. Ken was in the buff. Meanwhile, the ‘Red Ranger’ and ‘Eagle Eyes’ Action Man had instigated all-out war in the bleachers with heavy casualties being taken on both sides judging by the howls of battle being emitted from my clearly bored-to-tears son.

Now, I recognise it’s early days and that dolly-inspired academic genius surely lies just around the corner so, in preparation for the future, I checked out the tuition fees at Harvard. Crikey! I’d need my numbers to come up big time if that’s ever going to happen. I was wondering if Mattel Inc. would be prepared to put up £50,000 tuition fees, as a kind of insurance policy, in the unlikely event of my purchasing of a Barbie proving insufficient to guarantee a rich, fulfilling and financially-bountiful career. Thank you – I must go – my daughter informs me from the top of the stairs that ‘The Green Ranger is kicking seven shades out of Ken’ and Fifi needs rescuing from a heavily-armed mountain cave in my son’s bedroom. Yours sincerely, D Jones

Dan Jones is the author of Extracting Goats from Jean-Claude’s Kitchen published by Kellan Publishing.

Goats, rabbits and twin surprises

Just what is it about goats? Some of the most powerful experiences of our time in France came when we interacted with our little caprine herd. Initially, we adopted two goats from a friend in order to manage part of our land. We also kept rabbits, just as pets rather than for the table, who lived at liberty in a large area put aside for our animals, putting themselves to bed at night. Little did we know that one of our rabbits, Ella, and Darcey the goat had formed a cooperation pact with the exclusive aim or psychologically tormenting me. We were also unaware of the fact that Darcey was pregnant. The passage below from Extracting Goats from Jean-Claude’s Kitchen tells of the Ella/Darcey pact and the day when, without warning, we became the proud owners of twin kids.

Beautiful memories… very happy times.

excerpt from extracting goats from jean-claude’s kitchen (kellan publishing, 2019)

Animals are truly extraordinary and I find it difficult to accept the cold and impersonal explanations for much of their fascinating yet logically-impossible behaviour.For example, one of our rabbits, Ella, and Darcey the goat indulged in sophisticated teamwork. Having several hundred square metres of grass was obviously insufficient for Ella and she clearly believed it was greener on the other side of the fence. I watched, transfixed, as the two species made a highly-successful cooperation pact which reaped rewards for both parties. Ella would gnaw away at one strand of the fence as Darcey stood behind her, waiting patiently. Once there was the slightest bit of damage, Ella would step back and Darcey would ‘work’ the same hole with a horn. Then the procedure would recommence with another adjacent strand of fencing. By the end of the day, the hole would be big enough for both to escape. They would pass the evening eating exactly the same things as they would have done had they stayed within their area. Then at nightfall, they’d re-enter their compound through the same hole when they were good and ready…

One cold, drizzly January evening, I was sitting on my backside in the wet mud, mending a fence which had been damaged by the Ella/Darcey pact. I was trying to find my dropped pliers in a puddle, while simultaneously musing over at what point pneumonia or even frostbite might set in when I became aware of a presence over my left shoulder. Darcey had trotted out to see what was going on and, as I had positioned myself lower than her, felt it appropriate to challenge me for dominance. She delivered a head-butt to my forehead which would have made a Glaswegian pub-crawler on a Saturday night proud. Dazed and angry, I dragged her, bleating madly (her, not me) into the little wood cabin that was their shelter, and closed the door. I then staggered back to finish the job in peace.Eventually, shivering, damp and with hands as red as beetroots, I headed back eagerly for the sanctuary of the house and the warmth of the wood burner. Unfortunately for me, as Mrs Jones will freely attest, I am an inherently untidy person.Earlier in the day I had been raking some leaves and had, predictably, left the rake lying prongs-up on the floor. Inevitably, I trod on it in the darkness. I remember a huge whack to my already bruised face and then lying on my back in the sodden grass, staring at the clouds above. I was seeing double for three days afterwards and probably should have gone to A&E, but I just couldn’t face the moment of explanation to the doctor.

Kirsty with Bussell

“Well,injury number one came about because I was sitting in a pool of muck doing some nocturnal fence reparation at 10.30pm on a winter’s night when my goat butted me. The second is where I trod on a rake hiding in the thicket ten minutes later.”

Any self-respecting medécin would never have believed me and may well have had me sectioned.

[Neighbour] André had warned us.

“Si vouz voulez etre embetté, prenez des chevres.”[If you want to be annoyed, get goats]

One should always listen to the advice of elders.

Darcey and Bussell saved their most startling surprise for a cold January evening in 2016. The Sunday before that fateful day, we were invited en famille to go ice-skating in Angoulême. We were passing an agreeable afternoon when Kirsty slipped, landing smartly on her backside. I snorted loudly and reached for my phone to photograph her in this undignified position, but immediately chastened myself when I spotted a glare in her eyes which suggested there was a serious problem.Twenty-four hours later, we were in A&E in Sainte-Foy-la-Grande where a fractured ankle was confirmed. Kirsty was ordered to remain immobile for several weeks, leaving me with the duties of running the household, maintaining a smallholding, tending to the guests in the cattery and coping with two highly-active children; all-the-while holding down full-time employment as a guitarist and teacher. The Friday evening following these events, I rolled up outside the house, drained and exhausted. I sat back in the driver’s seat,closed my eyes and took a deep breath to meditate upon the tasks which needed to be completed over the weekend. Suddenly, I became aware of Flo, Sam and a friend tearing up the garden in a state of extreme excitement.

“Darcey’s had babies!” they cried, bouncing on the spot and clawing at the windows of mycar.

I couldn’t quite believe my ears. It appeared I now had to add ‘learn goat midwifery’ to my to-do list, just after ‘clear week’s backlog of washing up’.

, Flo and Sugar, at 2 days old.

Moments before, Flo and a friend from school had ambled down to the goat paddock and stumbled upon a new-born kid, barely minutes old. Having heard a commotion, Kirsty broke doctor’s orders and limped down the garden to investigate. There she discovered a second kid, concealed in the goat house. In a dazed state, I staggered to the paddock to meet the new arrivals who were already venturing into the outside world. There, [neighbour] Eliane and Kirsty stood with hands clasped, cooing over the utterly adorable bundles of fluff who’d just gatecrashed our lives. It seemed that I was the only person in the company who felt any reason to be anxious, or even mildly concerned. From over the garden fence, André simply shook his head and chuckled to himself in an ‘I told you so’ manner.Desperate to do something at least a little bit responsible, I telephoned Christophe the goat man (he of the psychotic caprine new-borns) for advice. He asked if the new arrivals were feeding and, once I’d confirmed this was the case, advised we just left them alone and allow nature to take its course. To put a halt to my fretting, we decided to go out for a meal at a local bar where I displayed photos of the new-borns to bemused strangers enjoying their entrecôte et frites.

I should say at this point we had wished to avoid such a circumstance, having deliberately chosen a female and a castrated male – I do possess some foresight. It seems Darcey must have mated within the herd almost on the day we had picked her up nearly five months before. Now I come to think of it, I do recall seeing a billy stretched out on a chaise longue smoking a cigarette. The next day, I phoned a retired vet who had been taking guitar lessons with me. This wonderful gentleman came straight over to Chez Jones and confirmed we were the proud owners of boy and girl kids.

Extracting Goats From Jean-Claude’s Kitchen is available from: http:// https://kellan-publishing.selz.com/item/extracting-goats-from-jean-claudes-kitchen