Express & Star

Andy Richardson: Endorphin high now comes from the sweetest of things

The endorphins were flowing. That’s what swimming does. Especially the variety of swimming that comes to those of us with addictive personalities who return to the pool three times in one session until our arms and legs no longer function.

Thank you, Mrs Darlington...

After my brain finally convinced my body that I was, indeed, ‘done’, I took to the sofa, where I basked in a warm, fuzzy glow – the sort of thing that scrumpy does to 20-year-olds, or winning the treble does to Jack Grealish – as the day wound down to a close.

And then came an unwitting dose of Vitamin S – the demon sugar.

A slice of toast, spread thickly with lemon curd, transported me to neverneverland. For 15 intense minutes, I felt as though I’d been mainlining amphetamine sulphate. Euphoria coursed through my veins, I was overcome with joyful giddiness, there was a rush of goodwill so intense that I very nearly reached out to former partners to wish them happy lives. I connected with my inner raver – only 25 years after the Second Summer of Love, but it’s never too late.

Who knew lemon curd could be so much fun? It is the crack cocaine of breakfast spreads.

In my early twenties, such episodes weren’t uncommon. I remember visiting a festival in pre-mobile-phone days and arranging to meet my brother, making arrangements amid a heady fug of red wine. I think the festival was called Wine Fest, for my abiding memory isn’t the bands that played – it’s the small cellar that was secreted carefully into my tent, away from the prying eyes of site security.

“Where shall we meet?” my brother asked, a few days before the event.

“By the mixing desk,” I replied.

We didn’t agree a time, there was no ‘coinciding-with-this-band’ clue – hell, we didn’t even specify a day. There was just a random ‘Meet by the mixing desk’ agreement, sometime during the three-day event. The most remarkable thing was that, remarkably, we did just that, at the first time of asking. Dionysus must have been smiling down upon us. As well as Bacchus, Du Kang, and other gods of wine.

There were other episodes during the helter-skelter years that are warmly remembered as a ‘coming of age’. Though, for the sake of those of a delicate disposition, I’ll quickly move on from the harmless, heady, craziness of a phase dubbed ‘experimental’. Modesty forbids whether or not I actually inhaled, though, in truth, if lemon curd had come in liquid, tablet or dried form, it’s safe to say it would probably have been ingested during an era when hangovers were as frequent as birdsong in the countryside.

And then, sensibly, at the age of 28, I gave it all up. Drink and I said our farewells.

And for 25 years, I’ve only enjoyed my old pal booze on one occasion – more’s the pity. That came at a restaurant when I ordered a glass of non-alcoholic something-or-other, but the waiter didn’t listen and sent out a glass of fizz. Imagining it was a benign elderflower number, I drank quickly – like a parched donkey on the hottest day of the year. And then, a nanosecond later, my senses lit up, like a million lights on Broadway. Boom. Zing-Zang. Helllloooo. Delicious. Could I have another glass of, erm, ‘elderflower’ please? Actually, I’ll take the bottle.

If only. Instead, I sensibly passed the glass to She Who Is Always Right, to finish it off, lest I resume a relationship that would have ended as regrettably as my two marriages.

Now, however, I’ve found a new, legal high. It is called Mrs Darlington’s Lemon Curd. Though having tapped into that new elixir of life, I’ve experimented like a lab rat and found that apricot jam offers an even more intense high. Ha. Try and legislate against that, Suella, and watch me and a thousand blue rinsers storm the Home Office to demand our rights to more lemon curd.

Preserves, jams and chutneys are the way to go in AD 2023. The Third Summer Of Love Is Upon Us. Thank you, Mrs Darlington.

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