Why? Because I can predict the future but am powerless to change it. Before any of your call me with questions about next week's lottery numbers, however, I should qualify that statement and point out that the only event I can reliably predict is the removal of plain chocolate rich tea biscuits from the shelves of supermarkets. Whether I like it or not, the buyers at Sainsbury's, Tesco's et al have conspired, over the past few years, to taunt me with evil insider trading schemes designed, I am sure, solely to make me as miserable as possible. In case you don't know, "Rich Tea" biscuits are like digestives but flakier and less sweet. Not being a man with a grand passion for sweet things, biscuits didn't play a large part in my life for many years. Digestives, laden with sugar, would clog my throat with sticky glucose syrup; milk chocolate Rich Tea were less insane but still not quite there, as were plain chocolate digestives. The golden combination of plain and (though it be a misnomer) rich was not just elusive but had not even occurred to me.
Until I met Nick Heathcote.
Nick introduced me to PCRT and I've not looked back. They are almost savoury; a meal of PCRT would be quite acceptable, even to a die-hard MSG addict like myself. I discovered the sated nirvana that eating an entire packet of biscuits in one sitting induces was no longer the reserve of overweight Texan women but available to me - me, the famously skinny non-biscuit-eating bane of all dietees' lives. I threw myself wholesale into this new activity.. until the blue packets suddenly disappeared from all the supermarket shelves. Overnight, I went into withdrawal. Now, I've quit a few things in my time - smoking for one - and I can tell you that the best thing you can have on hand are understanding friends. In this case, however, nobody was any use. "Plain chocolate.. rich tea? I didn't know they existed. Sounds horrible." was a stock response. Other people didn't realise they had been withdrawn because they never bought them and briefly I went through a period of winning £1 bets over their not being on the shelves at various supermarkets. However, I took no joy from it and felt instead rather like the receipient of a life insurance payout. Yeah, it was money.. but where were the biscuits?
Then, one day, I was shopping for the beginning of term with my Mother and the impossible happened. Elvis Presley crashlanded a flying saucer onto Lord Lucan in the car park but I paid them no attention because inside something far more unlikely had happened.. the PCRT's were back! Clearly, the buyers were listening to my silent prayers after all. I bought a good week's supply and left, happy that my favourite snack was back on the menu for good. Or was it? A few days later (I got a bit excited that first night and noshed down a pack and a half) I popped in for a refill and they were gone. I swear the things were on the shelf for about 24 hours. And then I learned a lesson. If I see PCRT on the shelves now, I buy them. All of them. Thanks to the miracle of preservatives, I could probably buy fifty packets and eat them before they went off. Actually, I could probably eat fifty packets in a month.
Anyway, the same damn thing happened to me just recently. The day before moving to Stratford I picked up an entire shelf-full (well, I left two packets in case somebody else was hanging for them as badly as I would have been) only to find another shelf-full in the Leamington branch of Sainsbury's. "Well well," I thought to myself. "They finally got the message." Anyone else got deja-vu? I'm sure I don't need to tell you what happened.
Suffice to say, I am down to my last one. And I have no idea where my next pack is coming from. I've got the shakes, the sweats.. Mark Renton has no idea what withdrawal symptoms are.
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