As we become older, we become more intolerant. Of pop music, other peoples' children, litter and in my case certain foodstuffs.
My formative years were spent feasting at tables struggling to support the weight of foodstuffs placed on them. When the question arose as to who had eaten all the pies, I had to become inconspicuous immediately, which was difficult after such a high degree of pie consumption.
The only thing absent from my feasting table was cold cheese of which I developed such a hatred in my younger days that if it was served on sticks at the Pearly Gates with pineapple and a welcoming glass of pink champagne, I would opt for the all-you-can-eat Barbeque at the other place.
Regrettably, Mother Nature intervened further in the noughties forcing me to wave a heartfelt goodbye to chocolate. This was because my consumption of it was accompanied with a collection of symptoms so disabling that it was like Jeremy Hunt appearing in a lift full of junior doctors and releasing a smell so disgusting it temporarily stopped them beating him to death.
Not content with the damage she has caused, Mother Nature has now intervened with a further assault on my soft parts with similar symptoms when I eat bread. While I have not nailed this down to a specific ingredient, it is abundantly clear to me that I have developed an intolerance to gluten.
The digestively grumpy state I have a now achieved has caused me to embrace the world of careful eating and there is much I dislike about it.
In my search for digestive nirvana, I have been forced to examine the contents of the shelves of Holland and Barrett in my quest for a new fuel source. I had ventured into this establishment previously to purchase "snake oil" which I had been assured would enable me to live to the age of 100 inspired by my uncle who glugged litres of the stuff. Fortunately for me as I am still consuming the stuff, that uncle exited this mortal coil when the finishing line was in sight. The rest of Holland and Barrett unfortunately has the aroma of a pet shop. This is not food - it is the love child of cat litter and the essential elements to life so condensed down that all of the enjoyable bits have been squeezed out. To illustrate this, they have a range of biscuits called charcoal biscuits. This is for a good reason - they contain charcoal as evidenced by them being black in colour. I can produce the same - it is called a burnt biscuit. The only saving grace is charcoal biscuits contain gluten.
I have tried to consume gluten free bread but found it lacks the essential characteristic enabling it to stay together. It's like having a house without cement - it only takes a big bad wolf with an attitude problem and a tendency to exhale to render your stately pile unstately.
As a result of all of this, I am now a fussy eater. This contrasts with my formative years during which if it was capable of being on a plate, I would eat it.
Happiness has been removed from my attending an Italian restaurant with both Pizza and Pasta becoming verboten. And a recent visit to a local Chinese restaurant led to my receiving a vicious oral beating from the waiter who had briefed me about what I could eat on the menu (in short nothing). I chose to ignore this advice advice owing to the need to eat and my mistaken belief that plum sauce is what it says on the tin.
I now inhabit a dark corner of High Street supermarkets inhabited by pastey faced stick figures seeking solace in packets of gluten free coffee and walnut cake or lemon slices. In their dreams, they are stuffing their faces with flour based delicacies which not only amuse their Bouche-es but make them feel that as if they had died and gone to heaven. The reality is that the symptoms of eating such delicacies would lack the heaven but approximate the death.
I recently sat at the table of a greasy spoon eyeing the breaded onion rings remaining on my plate, the greasy residue of the Bacchanalian feast that had accompanied it. I contemplated their consumption and prepared my "farewell letter" which began "goodbye cruel world - the choice was between life or breaded onion rings". Fortunately, other things caused me to see sense including the Pickwick collective, chips, the Golden Age of Dutch art, conducting the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in front of a mirror and the watching the films of Scarlet Johansson alone in a dark room. I chose Scarlet over breaded onion rings.
Becoming gluten free has caused me to make surprising discoveries. A visit to McDonalds for instance now requires me to order a naked burger - in plain English a burger without the bun. While recognising that a Big Mac does taste good, being presented with its constituent parts is like experiencing a partner only on the basis of an endoscopic examination of the internal organs during a first date.
There are consolations however with my delicate state. Cutting out bread, cake and everything created out of the unholy gluten as well introducing exercise into my life, I now posses the ripped body of a love God. My buns are no longer floury but of steel and my face does not possesses the jowly extensions which had often caused me to be mistaken for the Pickwick family dog. Even Mrs Pickwick has declared that she is sleeping with a new man. I have taken this to be a figure of speech despite Mrs Pickwick having been away a lot recently.
While I may be like Victor Meldrew at the dinner table, I am not downhearted. I now have one area of my life I am able to exercise restraint. And the areas where I lack restraint have now been given license to fill their boots. These are without exception carbon neutral, kind to animals and only performed between consenting adults. There are therefore compensations.