Sweet memories of childhood

MY teeth begin to ache at the mere thought of past pleasures centred on sweet shops of my youth.

Just how much damage their products did to my pearlies is painful to contemplate, but at the time that was something I did not even consider.

My mind was much too occupied with what was on offer and how much I could afford on my pocket money.

It was a golden era for confectionery, as I was starting to take an interest in the subject just as sweet rationing came to an end in 1953.

That was a long, long time ago but it was fascinating to learn this week that my favourites from the distant past are still around and going strong.


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New research has come up with a list of the nation’s favourite retro sweets.

Topping them all are cola bottles which were not introduced until 1981.

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But in second spot are jelly beans which are one of the older sweets, dating from around 1861.

Then comes liquorice wheels which have their origins in Yorkshire in the 17th century as Pontefract cakes.

The list continues with refresher chews, flying saucers (I can remember them melting in my mouth as if it were yesterday), fried eggs, Parma violets, foam shrimps, fizzers and, in tenth spot, gobstoppers. These were a favourite of mine because they lasted so long.

But, in the rat race of a society we live in today, they are now not as popular because people have less time to spend eating them than they did when they were invented in the early 1950s.

When I was not chewing sweets, one of my occupations in the autumn was playing conkers. The sport was a great way to pass the time during breaks in the playground and outside school, and was played in all weathers.

So I was a little surprised to hear that the world conker championship due to be held in Northamptonshire at the weekend had been cancelled due to expected high winds blighting efforts to erect marquees to be used by competitors from around the world.

The organisers said the event which has been going since 1965 and attracts 300 players was too big to be staged indoors. So what is wrong with competing in the open air? All you have to do is wrap yourself up and be prepared to alter one’s swing to compensate for the wind factor. Nothing to it.

One place where I used to play conkers was on Norton Common in Letchworth. I noticed last week that in a press release publicising an event there, North Hertfordshire Homes – which is based in Letchworth - managed to call it North Common. It also misspelled the name of the road in the town where I grew up.

The release containing the errors arrived in my inbox more than a dozen times. It was hastily followed by a message which read: “Apologies for repeated sending…We believe the problem is now fixed.” Over several days, this also popped into the inbox a dozen times or more.

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