A life can be mapped and measured in many ways - so let’s do it via the medium of breakfast.
Why not? Charting the nation’s history through what it eats at the start of the day is a good a method as any.
Food is key, and how we begin the day is a marvellous window on our social history, I say. And it’s interesting, in the way that sneaking a look at the contents of someone else’s supermarket trolley is always a window into their soul. Don’t believe me? Try it.
Perhaps the only downside is that currently all roads lead to Donald Trump, so talk of breakfast makes me think of Shredded Wheat, which makes me think of the Trump hair. Which makes me dispirited.
But showing British pluck, I vote we continue.
So: here’s the news. A supermarket has introduced breakfast salads. Yes! Salads! For breakfast!
There are four choices, they contain stuff like egg, spinach, ham, grains, grated veg. All of that.
What do you think? It’s a sensitive subject because we Brits take breakfast seriously. Not in the sense that we all sit down to a proper meal but in the sense that it is one of our few culinary success stories.
You might not like a Full English Breakfast but, by gum, you will know of it. It is one of the few strands of our culinary heritage with a reputation beyond our shores.
A hefty plate of bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, mushrooms and all the rest might not to be everyone’s taste. It might not sit easily on all early-morning stomachs but, apart from fish and chips it is our only international success, so treat it seriously we must.
Which would you prefer for breakfast - salad or Full English? Me, I’d go for the salad. Honestly I would.
The full English breakfast experience tends to happen for me only in hotels, and then only on the first day.
You know that feeling: you wake, you remember how much this place is costing, and you decide right there and right then to eat every item in every one of those metal dishes so as to get your money’s worth, and save on the food bill for the rest of the day.
By day two, your resolve is wavering. And if there is a hotel day three you are eating yoghurt and a bit of toast, trying to ignore the smell of the fried stuff.
But, back at home, it is possible to chart a life’s progress through breakfast.
In the ‘60s, when I were nobbut a lass, breakfast came out of a box.
Usually a Cornflakes box. But if our luck was in, it could turn into a box of Sugar Puffs.
No word of a lie, back then I didn’t know it was possible to eat anything but cereal at the start of the day.
No-one ever asked me, but if they had I would have said there was a law saying that only cereal was to be consumed for the first meal of the day.
For us kids anyway. My dad always began the day with porridge, made with water to show how hard he was.
But since those early years, there have been many breakfast phases for me, often dictated by the food fads of the day.
I dabbled with Shredded Wheat and other primitive food forms, like Weetabix, in order to gain fibre. I spent time with Special K in a bid to lose weight and, once I discovered I would not be jailed for giving up cereal, I discovered eggs on toast to pack in some protein.
And, for the longest time, I began the day with fat free soft cheese sprinkled with almonds and flavoured with lemon curd (don’t even ask).
That’s my breakfast history. Your breakfast history will be different but no less a reflection of changing times.
But what do you think of the salad? Are you going to take a leaf out of my book and try it? Go on, live a little, the world could end any day.
THE MAGIC OF A GOOD BOOK
It’s a sad business. One in ten of us do not own any books and, as everyone should realise, books are vital to life.
The research reveals that the book famine is even greater in young people - one in five of those aged between 18 and 24 don’t own a single book.
Maybe a person doesn’t own much of anything at the 18-24 stage. This is, after all, the phase of life when we possess little beyond the clothes in our wardrobe - plus those all important internet-connected devices, of course.
I don’t think not owning a book makes young people less educated than their elders - not at all. Information can be gleaned in lots of ways - and some of the most stupid and badly spelled social media posts come from those troublesome silver surfers, who could have houses stuffed with paperbacks.
So it’s not that making me sad. I just think people without books are missing out on a great joy.
There is really nothing to beat lying on the sofa in a quiet room and disappearing into another world. Well there is. You just have to add a cup of tea and a sweet treat to elevate the experience to levels beyond joyous.
And if it’s a pre-owned book, complete with its own history, even better. I love to buy books from previous decades complete with an inscription to the original owner inside.
Books are like real fires: they live, they breathe, they are the stuff of life. Everyone needs them in their life, even if they haven’t realised it yet.
GWYNETH SENDS US ALL TO SLEEP
Gwyneth Paltrow is such good value.
Having given advice on all several wide-ranging aspects of life already - from what to eat to how to steam your nether regions - she has now turned her attention to our sleeping habits.
Gwyneth wants us all to sleep soundly in our beds. It’s important , she says. Possibly even more important than eating the latest trendy, expensive and hard-to-source food fads.
It’s called “clean sleeping” and when Gwyneth says that she doesn’t mean she wants you to change your sheets regularly.
Nothing so simple. Clean sleeping involves a range of measures from wearing heated socks to sleeping on copper-infused pillowcases to maintaining a strict 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast.
I don’t know how effective any of these tips would be, I just know that the stress of implementing them would keep me awake at nights