I think TUC biscuits and their near relatives may form a sort of rite of passage.
When salt becomes at least worthy of inquisitiveness alongside sweet. I’m a little amazed that no-ones come forth with a life changing moment based around the humble Ritz biscuit – has a nibble ever been so unlikely to have been served up at the hotel with which it shares it’s name?
Anyway, the savoury biscuit – fabulous thing in its own way. I was never interested in them other than by virtue of inquisitiveness about why adults seemed so interested in them. My dad was a Ritz man. You were either a Ritz man or a TUC man back then. Utd or City. Penthouse or Mayfair.
The moment of induction came on a school visit to France.
I was 10.
The week should stick in my mind for the visits to landing beaches, the Bayeux tapestry, remembering what pamplemousse was, but the trip will always be the TUC trip to me. After another lunch of weird meaty yet watery soup, carrots in it, I can almost taste it now – not unpleasant by any means, just different to what I was used to. I went back to the room I was sharing with two others.
I was in the middle.
To my right Gary. He was magic at table tennis.
I was good, he was magic.
He was also still downstairs.
His TUC biscuits were on the side. I pinched one.
No one would notice one, I didn’t even hesitate.
That was when I really got salt, as in Salt, on it’s own, without vinegar. I think every 10 year old then loved salt and vinegar crisps and limeade (at least until Frazzles and Cresta came along).
In they went, certainly one by one, sometimes two by two. I toyed with the idea of leaving the last one.
I really did.
For a minute I really thought he’d think he’d made a mistake. “That’s funny”, he’d think, “I thought I’d only eaten one rather than eaten all but one, silly me”.
And I’d get away with it. Then I ate it.
The sound of feet on the stairs. I pushed the wrapper along the ledge outside the open window. Nonchalant, sat on the bed.
“Wess. I’m find”.
Spitting yellowy crumbs out of my still full mouth.
Rumbled. He found the wrapper.
I tried to deny it.
He found half a fallen biscuit sticking out of my tanktop.
Rumbled and shamed.
He looked at me like he was really really disappointed and just said “Thanks a lot …mate”.
No fuss, no scrap, just disappointment. It took me a Texan bar and 4 packets of Space Dust to wipe his disappointment away, which is a pretty high price if you ask me.