Some time in the closing years of the last century, I had dinner with two workmates – Suzie and Simon – at a Uruguayan restaurant in Amsterdam. I have changed their names.
I mentioned that I had once worked at a Soho facilities house in London with a girl who was terrified of Jaffa Cakes because she found their texture frightening.
“It’s the texture.” she told me. ” They’re dark and it’s the way the light reflects off the dark curves of the chocolate.”
I had thought she must be joking until someone innocently brought some Jaffa Cakes into the office and she had to flee the room.
“I can understand that,” Suzie said, “I don’t like the look of Jaffa Cakes either.”
Simon and I looked at her.
“It really is the texture,” she continued. “I don’t like things like Aero chocolate bars and bathroom sponges. It’s the little holes – the circular shapes. There’s something sinister and un-natural about them. Even though I know some sponges are natural. But they’re un-nerving.”
I mentioned to Suzie and Simon that one of the Dutch videotape editors at the TV station where we all worked had appeared as The Artful Dodger in her school’s stage production of Lionel Bart’s musical Oliver.
“Oh!” said Suzie, suddenly interested. “I played the Artful Dodger in a school play, too. When I met my husband years later, I told him about it and he said he wasn’t surprised, because he was always physically attracted to the sort of girl who could play the role of the Artful Dodger.”
Simon said he knew he wasn’t gay because recently, in Dublin, he had had his twice-a-decade dabble and knew he wasn’t.
Suzie and I were slightly taken aback but tried not to show it.
It was a strange dinner.