Book - The Day of the Triffids, by John Wyndham (and a hideous blind date).
The first John Wyndham novel I read was at school, when we had to “do” The Chrysalids. It made a huge impression on fifteen-year-old me. Today’s chocolate of choice has to reflect that same era, so today’s magical piece of chocolate history is the Fry’s five-centre bar.
The classic Fry’s bars feature dark chocolate plus filling (orange cream, mint cream, or the standard plain fondant) but the five-centre came in dark or milk chocolate. Each segment was a different fruit flavour (interestingly, different packaging gives different fillings, including coffee). My recollection is that the bar contained strawberry, orange, raspberry, lime and pineapple, so that’s the illustration I’ve selected.
I liked the milk chocolate version best, although it was incredibly sickly. It took real determination to eat the whole bar in one go, but somehow I managed to struggle through the pain.
So what, I hear you say, does a bar of chocolate and The Day of the Triffids have to do with a hideous blind date? Read on ...
Horrific Sunday lunchtime date
Gentlemen, here are a few pointers;
If you are a bit deaf, appreciate that when you speak, you are probably yelling at the top of your voice.
If you take your date to a crowded restaurant for lunch, appreciate that when you yell, “SO, YOUR HUSBAND LEFT YOU, DID HE?" everyone else will be startled, possibly to the point of spilling drinks. When you then continue with "FOR ANOTHER WOMAN, YOU SAID? WAS IT BECAUSE YOU DIDN'T WANT SEX?” they will abandon any pretence of eating or reading the Sunday papers, and simply listen, aghast.
Please note that they will not be nearly as aghast as your date.
If you feel that you must yell such things, allow your date to drink copious quantities of gin and tonic without commenting on the fact,
Please position your date's chair with easy access to the door, allowing her to run away without having to pretend she is going to the loo, thereby abandoning coat, gloves and scarf in her desperate flight to freedom.
So having left Joe Allen's in Covent Garden, and in the sure and certain knowledge that I will never go there again, I spent my afternoon on the South Bank. Rummaging through the second-hand bookstalls, I found this vintage Penguin - book, not an elderly Spheniscidae(!)
John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids
The narrator is in hospital with his eyes bandaged, following an accident at work. One morning he awakens not to the cheerful rattle of the tea trolley, but to silence, broken only by some distant screaming …
This is cosy science fiction of a sort I like. The collapse of civilisation as we know it is illustrated by way of its impact upon a small number of characters who set out to seek sanctuary. Published in 1951, it has a domestic charm that really sets up a chilling counterpoint to the terrifying events it depicts. (Compare with Shaun of the Dead - the Simon Pegg film - same sort of premise on a North London scale - hero wakes up from drunken stupor, kills zombies in Crouch End with cricket bat and then goes to ground in the local pub. Brilliant film)
There are some events in life that are so vividly described that it transforms your behaviour from that day onwards. Reading an article in the News of the World when I was a teenager about veal production means that I have never eaten veal in my entire life. And since reading Day of the Triffids I have never watched a meteor shower!