Jayne Dawson: Remain calm – our biscuits are all on their way back

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Some of you will be feeling twitchy, and I understand that.

There is a lot be twitchy about: the entire EU shebang; Leonardo DiCaprio winning an Oscar for that boringly bloodthirsty film; having to shortly uncover our legs to do the whole spring/summer thing.That’s plenty, and then some.

But more than that, there’s biscuits. I know! It’s been a nailbiter, hasn’t it?

Just as an army marches on its stomach, we are a people who exist on biscuits. A Custard Cream in a crisis has saved many a sad soul from the darkness of total despair.

So when the ovens of Europe’s second biggest biscuit factory became submerged in five feet of water courtesy of Storm Desmond in December, there was always going to be trouble.

The McVitie’s plant in Cumbria has been hors de combat ever since, and the result has been dwindling supplies of the nation’s favourites.

Ginger Nuts, Bourbons, Custard Creams, Chocolate Chip Cookies have all been in short supply.

So, in fact, have Carr’s Water Biscuits, but I’m not dwelling. I see a fan of this brand as being too posh for my sympathy. Go on, call me prejudiced. Don’t care. In my head, a water biscuit consumer will always live in a house with room for a pony round the back. They can take care of themselves.

But as for the rest, you may have seen the fallout with your own eyes - shoppers hovering around the biscuit aisle, eyes anxiously scanning the available options, seeking the packet that will Make Everything Alright.

In recent weeks, more often than not, that packet hasn’t been there. The internet is currently weighed down with the misery of people whose supermarket has run out of their favourite.

There are sad little comments: “My supermarket has run out of Ginger Nuts. They are the best dunkers.” Says it all really. Understatement, British pluck and a world of pain, right there.

We’ve always been the same about biscuits. There have been books and television documentaries dedicated to our passion. A theatre production wouldn’t surprise me. I can see the title now: “Crumbs!” It would be a barrel of laughs.

Childhood is a nostalgic love affair with biscuits. I have a friend who has still mourns the demise of Abbey Crunch. For her, they represented all that was sweet about growing up. You might say her parents have a lot to answer for but in the 60s there wasn’t as much affection around and a biscuit snack could be a beacon of light.

My own childhood favourite was a milk chocolate digestive with a glass of milk. Sometimes my mum would buy the plain chocolate variety instead, which would basically ruin my life.

Occasionally she would appear with a packet of Blue Riband, which were equally life-destroying. Who wants wafer in a biscuit? That’s not a biscuit, it’s a punishment. They went the way of Abbey Crunch.

If Custard Creams, or Jammie Dodgers ever ceased production, I think those protests about the poll tax would be as nothing compared with our biscuit barricades.

Here’s the sad truth though. I haven’t bought a packet of biscuits in decades. Not since I put on five stones in my second pregnancy. Even back then, we knew enough to know that the baby had something to do with my weight gain. But only a small part of it.

The rest was biscuits. The sicker I felt the more Rich Tea I shovelled through the nausea. After the first ten, I would start to feel better - for a very short time.

That went on for the full nine months and I would like to say it put me off biscuits for good. It didn’t. I could still shovel them down by the skip load, but I only eat them at other people’s houses now. For an addict, it’s safer that way.

For the rest of you, there is good news. The biscuit factory is back in production. From March 11 Ginger Nuts will be back as if they had never been gone, and the others will follow soon after. Get dunking.

Vinyl records make you rich

If you have been wondering lately how rich you are - and who hasn’t - I have news.

Cast an eye around your possessions and if you spot a vinyl record collection then you are doing very nicely thank you.

That’s according to research by an insurance company, and there are other items on the list.

An Aga, a wine fridge, underfloor heating, a walk-in wardrobe, a juicer, some posh paint and a home office are all indicators that you are rolling in it too.

Which is nice. Lots of us will be able to manage something from there.

I personally have a metre of Farrow and Ball paint in my home, and knowing that makes me filthy rich, despite all other available evidence, is making me walk tall today.

That record thing though, it worries me. Because common sense says that a vinyl collection means that the owner is not so much rich as ...old.

All we people who lived our young years before the 1980s bought vinyl.

Some of us bought extensively, some of us didn’t because we had babies in our early twenties and needed our money for matters more practical.

That was me, but even I have my David Bowie, Elton John, Rod Stewart and Jam records in the loft.

They will never come out, and the best were lost in a house move. But I’m interested to hear they make me rich, even if it’s clearly a nonsense.

Stop the boring Oscars talk

Well, that’s over for another year. Good.

I’m talking about the Oscars, which I find quite screamingly boring. It’s a puzzle because I enjoy a film, adore a great frock and appreciate a bit of glamour. But still they leave me cold.

Even the behind the scenes stories hold no interest. I don’t care what the nominees find in their goody bags. I know it’s not a free shampoo sample.

I know also that it takes approximately three months for an actress to get herself body-ready for the big reveal and the work is arduous and often painful. And I know that I couldn’t afford so much as a button from one of those dresses. Maybe that’s it.

The Oscars are so monied, so extreme, so smug and self congratulatory, so far removed from my life that it renders them of no interest. The world is rarified and cosseted and only of concern to the very few who are part o fit. Please can we stop with all the acres of coverage?

Sarah Champion MP

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