For maximum enjoyment pop one between your cheek and gums, and wait for the magic to kick in
There are very few vices and weaknesses that remain to me. Alcohol, once my regular companion, is now like a casual friend who took a job in another country: visits are very occasional, brief and never at home. I still smoke cigarettes, but that will go hopefully sooner, rather than later.
Apparently, if you don’t smoke, you live forever. Caffeine is a difficult one: coffee keeps me going at work. Perhaps I’ll substitute tea, perish the thought, and then woe betide me move on to the anaemically insipid caffeine-free variety. I think I’ll just switch to a cup of hot water with fat free milk and no sugar: maybe that will keep me alert.
I feel as if I am becoming an American, one of those health Nazis though, not the sort that you find hanging around a burger joint trying not to look obese. My red meat consumption has declined to the point where steak happens on an irregular six-week cycle. Even my sugar intake is consciously measured and the teaspoon count is kept to less than the number of fingers on the hand of a man who had a gruesome accident with an angle grinder. My waistline is shrinking. I am half, or possibly one third the man I used to be.
I have always had a deep mistrust of men and women who nurture no vices and harbour no weaknesses. Till now I suspected they were neurotic in that deep down way we see in serial killers or politicians who want to remake the world so everything works just so. Now I am in danger of becoming one of them. However there is hope: before I invest in a chainsaw and an extra large walk-in freezer, or run for public office, I can always turn to my pack of Fisherman’s Friends.
If sweets had a dark side, if they came with the sort of warning that says, “Do not try this at home unless supervised by a responsible adult.” then Fisherman’s Friends would fit the bill. They are the type of sweets you can offer to everyone, securely knowing that your offer will invariably only be accepted once.
Fisherman’s Friend lozenges were invented by pharmacist James Lofthouse in 1865. His idea was to provide something to relieve coughs, sore throats and bronchitis experienced by fishermen on the freezing North Sea and in the Arctic Circle. I don’t know what they did for colds and flu, but they are now enjoyed by demented people like me in over 100 countries.
I never intended this column for free commercial punts, but as you are the sort of cerebral adventurer who enjoys a different take and regularly reads this column, I felt the need to share this with you.
The secret of Fisherman’s Friend lozenges is Oleo Capsicum, derived from the chili. You won’t find it in the entire Fishermen’s Friend range, but take a look at ingredients listed on the Original Extra Strong Lozenges in the white packet and on the Super Strong Mints in the institutional green packet.
For maximum enjoyment, pop one between your cheek and gums, and wait for the magic to kick in. Unless, like so many others, you cough and spit it out immediately, you will be rewarded with the sort of wake-up call that is mild by chili standards, but that redefines the mint. Paradoxically, it intensifies the sensation of ‘coolness’ common to the mint.
If there is one vice I intend to carry with me into whatever disreputable old age I can salvage from the loss of my other diversions, it is Fisherman’s Friends. Not only are they a personal pleasure that leaves your mental faculties in tact, but they also earn those gratifying sidelong looks from people who are convinced that you ought to know better.
Fisherman’s Friend Original Extra Strong lozenges have become my moment of ascetic hedonism: enjoyed rarely and in moments of great satisfaction, for instance finishing this column. I use them rarely so that I will never spoil the pleasure by jading my palate.
As vices go, you could do no worse than to try one, and no better than to keep a pack on hand with which to challenge your taste buds and those of the people around you.