Gold Top

Have you noticed how footballers promise to give 110% commitment to their next, most important, game? Surely if you have the capacity to give an extra 10% then your original 'one hundred' is miscalculated. I am not sure what prompted this need for inflation in measurements but it seems to be catching. I asked daughter number two how good a movie was that she had just finished watching. Enthused with positivism she said that she would give it eleven out of ten. She confused matters further by remarking that it would have been given a twelve but the ending was poor. So what is happening to our communal method of rating? It seems that ten out of ten is no longer adequate in conveying a positive message. So it is with our food; long the bastion of confusion with its 'no added sugar' easily mistaken for 'sugar free'. We now have a full range of information available on the packaging of most produce on our supermarket shelves. I am comforted to know that I can take my whole week’s salt allowance in one bite of burger and that lemon sorbet can be included in my five fruit and veg requirement. Not all of these changes are as simple to understand as in the days of yore (by which I mean the sixties and seventies, where my mind has painted a picture of an idyllic existence). Back then you knew the type of milk you were buying by the colour of the top: Gold being the choicest on offer to wash down your Saturday afternoon wagon wheel. With Silver top and Red Top, came the Red/Silver of semi-skimmed and the white-water of Blue/Silver skimmed. In those days the choice was not made on the basis of health but on how well it tasted on your cornflakes or how little it curdled in your tea. There was one other variety on offer that I believe to be straight from the cows of Hades; namely Sterilised, known simply as 'Stera'. This was offered to meet the dairy needs of families without fridges and had a taste that grannies and old aunts loved. I remember as a small child returning home from a school friend’s house having tasted their home made Vimto milkshake. Determined to replicate this delicacy I pulled the slender bottle of evil from the end cupboard and mixed the appropriate amounts in a Tupperware jug. The milk and cordial were not for joining and I was left with a liquid that looked like it had been drunk once already. It seems that Stera had a special quality of only being able to mix with hot water and tea leaves. I have been a confirmed pasteurised drinker ever since but I confess that I have tried to lay off the Gold top in recent years hoping that my already clotted arteries might eventually work them selves clear. I have heard it said that the old milk 'coloured top' system is used by some females as a scoring system for rating potential male companions; Gold Top being the best men available, whilst Blue/Silver represents someone who looks like the real thing but has no substance. I am not sure what a Stera man would look like. I asked my wife how she would rate me using dairy products and she said I would be freshly produced cheddar because eventually she hoped I would mature. Not sure she gets the idea on this one. I still think the 'marks out of ten' system is the easiest to understand and should be used in all areas. Food could therefore be labelled as 3 out of 10 for health and 9 out of 10 in terms of taste. Footballers could be encouraged to reinterpret their 'over the moon-ness' as ten out of ten, and my wife could console me with a ten for cooking to make up for the three I would get for remembering really important things. The good news is that my wife has just confirmed that she sees me as a Gold Top in ‘most’ areas; it’s a good job that she is not lactose intolerant.

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