There I was, sat in the lounge bar of the Strangled Ferret, minding my own business and enjoying my first pint of Old Mouldy with the Sun crossword when Dave, who lives just across the road from me, had to go and spoil it all.

‘Made any New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 John?’ he asked.

‘Apart from not talking to strange men in pubs, you mean?’

‘I mean deciding to do something to change your life for the better, improve your health, take more exercise, something like that.’ He said with a smirk. I knew what was coming. He had obviously taken up some extreme sport such as crown green cribbage and wanted to boast about it.

‘No,’ I said, ‘I will never make another New Year’s Resolution as long as I live. Not after that fiasco last year.’

‘Why, what happened,’ he asked unwisely, I had now got him off his boasting theme so I could hold the floor and tell my story.

‘It all started just after Christmas last year. My wife, Janet, had mentioned tactfully that I seemed to be getting a little chubby. She was just being kind really as I was then five foot three tall and weighed twenty seven stone, I had been rejected by Lard Lookers© as their scales only went up to twenty one stone. I knew I was very fat and something had to be done.

I had got in the habit of calling into the newsagents on the corner on the way to work each morning to pick up a copy of the Sun and a small bar of Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, the small one with just eight squares. I enjoyed the brief craic each morning with the owner, Colin, who made lugubrious seem like the height of optimism. He was the sort of pessimist who had prunes with his All Bran and if you mentioned what a lovely, sunny day it was, he would complain about a plague of locusts in Timbuktu three years before. If you talked about the pleasure of hearing the birds singing in the morning, he would whine that they kept his cat awake.

When I got to work, I carefully put the chocolate in the fridge and the Sun in my desk drawer until lunchtime, when I could enjoy both of them still sat at my desk. I always tried to finish the Sun crossword at lunchtime but it was very difficult and I often had to finish it in the pub after work. Take seven down today for example. ‘Three letters, ruminant quadruped, often kept for its’ milk.’ I told you it was difficult, a real cow of a puzzle sometimes.

I resolved to do something about my weight so I stopped buying my daily bar of chocolate from Colin and took the Sun into the park at lunchtime each day where I walked briskly for half and hour before sitting on a bench by the pond to have a go at the crossword. I figured that this would gradually make a difference to both my weight and fitness.

This went well for the first three months of the year and then the dreadful news started filtering out of Poland and The Ivory Coast.

Let’s take Poland first.

You may remember that a large tranche of Cadbury’s production had been moved to Poland when Kraft shut down the Somervale factory in Keynsham? The Sales Manager for the UK had noticed a drop in Bournville sales and had, in fact, been sacked for his poor performance. He lived with his wife and three children in a house in Wieliczka, near Krakow. He now had no income so the bank foreclosed on his mortgage and repossessed their house. Because of the recession the house stayed empty and fell into disrepair. The rain got in and drained through into the basement where it found a crevice and made its way through to the underlying salt mine where it dissolved away a lot of the remaining salt. The Cadbury factory had been built above the salt mine to provide jobs for the miners when the mine closed so the factory collapsed into the gaping hole in the ground left by the dissolved salt.

This factory had been funded by the Polish National Bank which now became badly exposed, not a good idea in a Polish winter, and so had to ask for help from the European Central Bank. This caused a run on the bank and so started the Eurozone crisis.

Now the Ivory Coast.

With no chocolate production at the Cadbury factory in Wieliczka, there was a drop in demand for cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast which produces about 38% of the world supply so several farmers were ruined and stopped growing cocoa beans. With no cultivation there were huge mud slides when the winter rains came and several towns were inundated.

I lost my job at the London branch of the Polish National Bank, Colin had to put his business into administration and we closed our book printing company due to lack of sales. ( Janet and John book printing Co. plc..)

So you see Dave, when you asked me about New Year’s Resolutions, I will not even think about them this year.’

I opened my jacket and showed him my tee shirt, printed with the words. I started the Euro crisis, ruined the Ivory Coast, lost my job and closed Colin’s shop.

‘But how could your not buying one bar of chocolate cause all that damage?’ asked Dave.

‘It’s all part of chaos theory, it’s called the butterfly effect,’ I explained.

‘If you’re a butterfly now, I wouldn’t like to have met you when you were a caterpillar.’ Dave can be quite hurtful at times.

He then started telling me about how he had taken up the new sport of outside darts using humming birds for darts and the problems they were having with the pesky birds who would insist on hovering just short of the board before deciding which number to stick their beaks in and how they had to remove the bull’s eye as they were strict vegetarians.

I quickly got bored listening to this and so went to get a couple of pints of Old Mouldy for Dave and myself and a few sips of the amber nectar for his birds.

© Richard Kefford                                                                                                        Eorðdraca


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