Bubble gum…available in England, after all.

DOES anyone know what constitutes a healthy diet?

Quite frankly, I’m baffled.

When I was a young ‘un it was simple: I was given home-cooked meals containing as much fruit and vegetables as my parents could realistically cram onto one plate.

As a reward for eating my greens, I was allowed a Woolworth’s pic‘n’mix once a week (but only up to the value of a pound).

Until I was 10 I believed raisins were sweets (thanks, dad) and it took me months to realise my mum was lying when she said bubble gum was ‘only sold in America’.

But the point is, it wasn’t rocket science.

Now, I think advanced physics might be simpler – or at least less in conflict with itself.

Fish, which I’ve previously been told is good for the brain, should now be off the menu entirely because of the amount of ‘plastic particles’ in the ocean.

One day experts say we should aim for five portions of fruit and veg, the next we should be juicing everything, then we should be avoiding anything that even resembles juice.

Now we’re back on solid foods they’ve upped the ante: ‘seven-a-day’ is the phrase of the moment.

This is more logical than ‘no carbs after 5pm’ or ‘only blue foods on Thursdays’.

But what I’ve discovered is that seven-a-day is hard. As a result, trying to hit my target has become a serious business.

“No, no, no, it’s all wrong!” I say, surveying The Fiance’s shopping list and wielding the iron fist of nutrition.

“We’ll be getting eight on Tuesday but only four on Wednesday!”

It’s become a military operation.

“I’ve had four…five…six…” I count on my fingers.

“Oh God, I missed my 11am apple! I’ve only had six of my seven-a-day! Quick – pass me the dried apricots!”

Honestly, I’m sure things were simpler when I was a kid.

I blame Woolworth’s closing. Everything went downhill after that.

I need to find somewhere that does pic’n’mix – that’ll solve the problem.

Or, asks a nagging voice at the back of my mind, have I slightly missed the point..?

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on April 10, 2014

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“You look like one of those dogs…”

MEN aren’t very good at paying compliments.

(I just heard every woman in the North West collectively sigh: “Yes. And?”)

The Fiance tried the other day but it was an epic fail.

“You look like…” he stopped, thoughtfully, assessing my face.

“…like one of those dogs. The ones with long ears.”

He looked so proud of himself as he qualified: “A spaniel, that’s what I mean. You look like a spaniel.”

My face said it all.

“No, no!” he quickly backpedalled. “That’s a good thing! They’re cute! Because their ears look like long hair!”

The poor lad continued in this vein for several seconds as I tried desperately not to ruin my ‘stern face’ by laughing.

But he’s not alone in being spectacularly bad in this department.

I was once informed by a male friend at university that: “You’re, like, cool to hang out with, cos there’s no danger I’ll want to make a move on you.”

And my dad once said, his voice full of surprise: “Your hair…it looks nice!”

But at least with a man you know where you stand, even if their compliments feel less ‘well-thought-out’ and more ‘sledgehammer to the face’.

Women, on the other hand, are a completely different kettle of two-faced fish.

Women will tell you they like your dress/hair/’the way you deliberately chose your bag so it wouldn’t match your shoes’ – and all you know is that they could have meant something completely different.

This is one of the subtle differences between the sexes.

A man will tell you that he doesn’t like your green dress, but ‘the blue one you wore last week looked hot!’

A woman will tell you she loves your green dress – and she’ll add, with a smile: “And isn’t it great that you can pull off an outfit that no-one else would think to wear!”

Now, if you don’t mind, we’re going to have to leave it here. I’ve got an appointment with my hairdresser to see what can be done about the spaniel that’s appeared on my head.

Article first published in The Westmorland Gazette on April 3, 2014