FOOD has dominated the month for me. It has been an epic, epicurean few weeks as we entered the home straights of our annual food and drink awards.
One of the things I had to do was judge one of the award categories which meant that my fellow arbiter and I traversed the length and breadth of the county trying out some magnificent delicacies.
I'm not looking for sympathy here; no-one has been holding a bun to my head or threatening to batter me with a battenburg. But there have been consequences.
In truth the signs have been building up for a while, ever since I took over the editor’s chair in January. You see there is a significant part of this job that involves convivial consumption; breakfast meetings, lunches, dinners, afternoon teas, dining reviews and so on.
The consequence has been a gradual, but inexorable rise of the old avoirdupois. For a while I blamed a change in the washing solution favoured by the present Mrs Castle, believing it was having a foreshortening effect on the waistband of the old trews.
But the proof of the pudding, sadly literally, came the day before the black tie gala. I slipped into the satin stripes just to make sure all was well (I have had the same DJ for 15 years) and despite some manful tugging, could not get the ends to meet in the middle.
A panic dash into town followed and, joy of joys, I found a store which had the foresight to put in, shall we say, a certain amount of flex into the waistband of their trousers, so allowing me to buy without the shame of going up a size. God bless ‘em.
Thus I was able to address guests at the evening from the podium without the stress of a) only being able to exhale for five minutes or b) risking a button pinging off and taking someone’s eye out.
It was a splendid evening, full of delight and celebration. It can sound a little glib to say that we have a fantastic food and drink industry, but it is true. As our expectations rise, as we become experts thanks to Masterchef, the Great British Bake-Off et al, they are met by the culinary brilliance of our chefs, bakers and makers. It’s wonderful.
On my tour of Norfolk I didn’t have a bad experience and hand on heart (or hand on bulging stomach) that has been true every time I’ve consumed something with ‘Made in Norfolk’ on it.
Anyway, one thing I failed to do on the big night was share a food joke, which I will put right now, with thanks to my colleague Andy Russell.
A family of potatoes is living in a Norfolk field. One day the eldest daughter comes home and says: “Mum, dad, great news – I’m marrying King Edward!”
“Wonderful,” say mum and dad. “He’s got prospects.”
Second daughter appears the next day. “Mum, dad, great news – I’m marrying Jersey Royal!”
“Wonderful,” say mum and dad. “Royalty’s all right.”
Third daughter appears the next day. “Mum, dad, great news – I’m marrying John Motson!”
“WHAT?” say mum and dad. “You can’t marry John Motson!” “Why not?" sobs the daughter. "Because he's a common-tater!" I’m here all month – have a great October.