I was asked to write an article about peanuts and I couldn’t resist writing this piece once the idea came to me. Of course it wasn’t suitable for the magazine so I wrote a ‘straight’ article as well for them. This one is more fun.
I looked around furtively at the other faces in the room. We were all sat in a circle and we all had a problem. The group leader looked directly at me as a new member.
‘Would you like to go first, Ian?’ he said.
I stood up ‘My name’s Ian and I am a peanutaholic.’
A few of the others nodded sagely some carried on looking at the floor.
‘Go on,’ said Adrian.
‘It all started when I was sixteen and I had my first pint of beer. I wasn’t impressed by the beer so I had a packet of dry roast peanuts to take the taste away. As soon as I felt the crunch and tasted the salty roast flavour of those nuts I knew I had found something to live for. Before long I was buying a dozen packets at a time and making sure there was always a packet to hand. It didn’t matter what they were; ready salted, dry roast even peanuts in their shells. Then I discovered peanut butter.’
There were a few gasps from the others, probably over how low I had sunk. I looked guiltily at the ceiling. I had come this far in my confession and it didn’t seem to matter anymore. I continued.
‘I used to buy it in two kilo tubs.’
‘Been there,’ the guy sitting next to me said and there were murmurs and heads nodding and I knew I was amongst friends.
‘I used to have peanut butter and Marmite sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. Next thing I knew I was buying sacks of peanuts in pet shops and making my own.’
One of the girls started crying. Another came and put her arm around my shoulders.
‘To hide my addiction I started making Indonesian food and was eating satay every night. That’s when I knew things were getting out of control.’
Suddenly all eyes were swivelling towards one of the older ladies. Adrian stood up.
‘Rosemary, are you hiding something?
‘I’m sorry Adrian, I forgot I had it.’ She pulled her hand from the folds of her dress. She was holding a peanut brittle. A sort of ripple went around the group as it was revealed. The expressions on their faces went from shock to longing. One man groaned.
‘Rosemary, you know we don’t allow any peanut products into group meetings.’
She stood up and with her head down she walked towards the swing doors of the hall. But before they closed after her we all heard the crackle of the cellophane wrapper and I don’t believe there was anyone in that group who wasn’t envious of Rosemary and salivating at the thought of biting into that crack hard brittle sugar to the peanuts within. I was beginning to fidget. One man ran out in desperation.
‘OK, calm down everyone,’ Adrian said. ‘We always lose one or two at these meetings. Let’s hear from you Stanley.’
A lugubrious looking man stood up. He didn’t look like the usual peanutaholic to me but then it takes all sorts.
‘For years I thought I had it under control.’ Stanley said. ‘I was working as a KP, that’s kitchen porter to you but I got the sack for raiding the fruit and nuts from the larder. I was trying to control it and used to have a couple of packets of dry-roast a day but then I realised it was escalating. I was on Reece’s peanut butter cups and several Snickers a day and kid myself it was just for the chocolate. I ended up living in a peanut den at a squat in Islington. There were desperate people in there; you couldn’t really get away from it. There were parties with people bringing in peanut brownies, peanut cup cakes with peanut butter icing, peanut butter and jam sandwiches cut into little triangles, chocolate coated peanuts as petits fours; someone would bring in a peanut curry; oh man we were out of it for days – until we got more in.’
I couldn’t take any more; I could feel the withdrawal symptoms kicking in. I made for the doors and pushed my way out. Stanley was behind me. ‘Pub?’ he said
‘Too right, I replied.
‘Two large scotches,’ I said to the barman.
He scanned our faces with a practised eye as he put them on the bar. ‘Any peanuts?’ he asked.
I looked at Stanley and he nodded.
I said ‘Oh, go on then.’