I have such a guilty pleasure | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

One of the main and most enjoyable elements within the recent Christmas holiday, has been the abundance of food.

Tuesday, 7th January 2020, 11:26 am
Alun can't get enough of chocolate fingers.
Alun can't get enough of chocolate fingers.

I enjoy the excitement of seeing a fridge bursting with buffet-style treats that I never really eat at any other time.

Examples: gorgonzola – don’t even really like it – duck pate, and piccalilli to name but three.

Food has always been a staple element of the festivities and with that a wider degree of freedom to kick back and enjoy it.

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Family members shouting ‘is anyone else hungry?’ at 10.30pm quickly becomes the norm.

With all this in mind, I am still surprised that I find the need to secretly eat.

Just one example is this…

My aunty Linda always gives a very welcome gift of biscuits every year.

It’s so common that even though they are wrapped up my mum will call for a pre-christmas chat and often throw in ‘oh, your biscuits from Linda are here’.

When we open them on Christmas Day they are introduced as ‘who wants to open the biscuits from aunty Linda?’

The historic reason for the biscuits is my much-adored uncle used to work at McVities and so could get boxes of Family Circle discounted.

Once unwrapped on Christmas Day, the biscuits get relocated to our tiny utility room – I call it the laundry room in an effort to boost the house price.

Then the deceit starts.

Usually when it’s getting late and I’ve already eaten cheese, I crave sweet.

This year I sneaked into the utility room with a sharp knife and the stealth of Ant Middleton on manoeuvres (SAS Who Dares Wins).

I quietly open the box, slide out the hermetically sealed top tray, open, and quietly, as if defusing a bomb, remove the biscuits.

Why? I don’t know, but I do.

Why not declare my intentions? Maybe it’s the thrill? Maybe I hate sharing?

Perhaps I’ve told everyone else to stop eating junk – oh, that’s it.

There are 10 classics and I have an order of consumption. Yes, really, I do.

Milk chocolate finger first – start with excitement, don't mess about.

Crunchy oat second – feels like a healthy choice.

Then it’s Highland shortie, followed by custard and bourbon creams which can go back to back, they’re generic.

I build to a big finish with the nice (I know, but I like them), choc chip cookie, milk chocolate digestives and then the ultimate… the happy face.

The jam, the cream, the smile, it just works.

Which mad food scientist came up with such a combo?

It takes two visits to secretly conquer layer one and leave the box looking intact.

It takes years to master these skills.

For layer two, I waited for my wife to shout that she was taking my son to the bank.

Then, when the coast was clear, I upped my game and had a glass of milk too.

I destroyed the box and placed the remainder in an empty Celebrations tub for later. I’m not proud of what I do, but it does make me laugh, privately.

Particularly when I ask other members of the family to make healthy choices, or lament ‘haven't you had enough chocolate for the day?’ I can’t really be held responsible.

My generation has a well-established blame culture.

I blame my uncle for his biscuit legacy, my aunt for her generosity year after year without fail, and McVities for the genius of creating an addictive smiley face to devour.

I’m now a man who huffs and puffs

I never used to puff.

I seemed to be able to go through life completely able to reach for items, climb stairs, and eat meals without puffing.

I was unaware it was becoming an issue until recently.

I was clearing up after dinner and then attempting to book tickets online.

As I drifted around the kitchen I must have been puffing, I then got the laptop computer and placed it on the kitchen table, with more puffing.

I was unaware of my issue until my wife appeared from the front room a bit like a scary angelic being with a message from God.

‘Will you stop puffing! I can hear you over the TV, do you need something?’

I didn’t need anything, but the jolt from unaware to aware was a surprise.

I replied: ‘I’m just full.’

It wasn’t just that though, it was a combination of late nights, booze and over-indulgence.

It was causing my entire being to huff and puff like a train that’s struggling to make it to the next stop.

The issue now is that I notice when I huff and puff.

I carried the vacuum cleaner upstairs and it was like an advert for stairlifts.

My new year resolutions used to be – give up booze, fewer parties, earlier nights mid-week.

For 2020 it is to exhale quietly.