I’ve not had barley sugar since 25th May 1967.
My nan had a cupboard like a confectioner’s and contained an assortment of sweets primarily designed for sucking. If there’d been a warning fifty-one years ago on one specific packet I’d have not missed Cubs.
Dressed in Cub shirt, adorned with collector’s and signaller’s badges and newly-won felt sixer’s appendage, shorts, socks (together with garters holding them up) and woggle in correct position (enter your own gag here), I was all prepared to shout “dyb, dyb, dyb”, play handball, run like a Banshee round Balham Baths’ adjoining hall and splatter over-cooked sausages to every part of the hall’s kitchen, my nan proffered me one last sweet from her store.
I’d never had barley sugar before and felt it would make a change from her usual offering of Acid Drops or Callard & Bowsers Toffees. It would be the last time too as, after a nano-second, because it stuck in my throat. The natural melting time for a barley sugar boiled sweet is around the best part of a decade (the time it felt this thing was stuck in my throat). Cubs had to be attended at all costs, if only to see how far up sausages on too high a gas would ascend into the air.
I spent, ostensibly, hours and hours, being fed water as hot as possible to try and melt the stubborn barley sugar – was suffering third degree burns in my throat worth not being shouting at by Akela?
Eventually the sweet melted sufficiently for it to move through my throat. Cubs had been and gone and the sausage safe for another week before I returned as a maniacal Fanny Craddock.
I sat down, relieved; my nan to put the TV on – the 1967 European Cup Final between Celtic and Inter Milan was taking place. I had been a hero like the Celtic players that night. Less than a week later I saw, in the Radio Times, they had the European Cup Winner’s Cup Final on TV. Glasgow Rangers against some team which I’d never seen on the Big Match. Perhaps I might bunk off Cubs again?