Like a marathon runner whose knees go wobbly in sight of the finish line, the struggle to reach Maundy Thursday when school closes for Easter feels like a wobble from side to side.
Sitting at my desk this morning, gazing blankly at the monitor, my colleague placed a mug of tea in front of me and said, “what you need is one of these.” He handed me a pack of two rice cakes. “Low calories,” he said.
“That’s good,” I said.
“They only have chocolate on one side,” he replied.
“Good, I have got my weight down to twelve stone. I need to be careful what I have with my tea.”
Something with my tea led me into trouble in 2013. Undergoing an angiogram in a Dublin hospital, the cardiologist had turned the monitor around to point out obstructions in the coronary arteries caused by a build up of cholesterol.
“Too many church hall teas,” I had commented.
“No,” he said, in his soft German-accented English, “it is not the tea; it is what you have with the tea that is the problem.”
There are undoubtedly numerous studies into the psychology of “comfort eating”, numerous articles in learned journals on why people choose to eat food that only does them damage.
Of course, the choice could have been worse than chocolate coated rice cakes. I might have bought a bar of chocolate on the way to school, or a bag of cookies or doughnuts from Sainsbury’s on the Tewkesbury Road.
The chocolate covered rice cakes did make the classrooms that awaited me seemed slightly more welcoming, the lessons slightly easier to deliver. Perhaps the boost of enthusiasm was more due to the burst of caffeine from the mug of very strong Yorkshire Tea than to any energy boost from the two rice cakes.
On Wednesday evenings, I buy cookies for members of the faculty, enough for one each at break time on Thursdays. On Friday mornings, my colleague goes to Sainsbury’s at opening time and buys a bag of doughnuts or yum-yums. On such boosts of bad foods we get through the week.
Someone would probably make a fortune if they could produce a comforting foodstuff that had no detrimental effect. It could be especially marketed in schools. “Feeling ground down?” the advertisement might ask. “Feeling tired and weary? Then we have the very thing you need. No calories, no artificial additives, no bad side effects”. It would undoubtedly not taste as nice.
I have only just remembered the writer! John Greenleaf Whittier.