Let me take you back to 1994 and my brother Kevin’s 18th birthday party. It was a day that was memorable for many reasons. For example, if anyone wants to start banging on about climate change and global warming, I am always happy to remind them that at this party, on the second weekend of December, it was warm enough that we were dancing on the front lawn at close to midnight. It was that warm.
Some of us might not have made it that far, because that was the day that Primula cheese spead tried to kill my girlfriend.
Helen, as I may have mentioned one or two dozen times, is a superb cook. She is also, however, very allergic to cheese. This created some very interesting problems over the years – one of the few phrases that I know in Italian is ‘I am allergic to cheese’ – but none like the problem that it created this day.
One of the buffet items at this party involved the use of the aforementioned cheese spread. Quite what happened I never actually found out, but it seems probable that Helen absentmindedly rubbed her nose when she had some Primula on her finger.
Before she knew it, her nose had begun to swell and she was having trouble breathing. The inevitable sense of concern was only added to by the fact that no-one was sure what she had done.
For some reason, there were some anti-histamines about the house. I cannot remember why this should be, as at the time the only person who needed then would have been me, and I don’t suffer from hay fever in December. I do remember that we threw a couple down Helen’s throat and she began feeling better almost straight away and was soon recovered enough to be itching to get back to the kitchen.
Primula Cheese Spread? Since that day I have never knowingly touched the stuff. It is lethal.