The Howard Croft column

People who love chocolate will buy two bars to satisfy their craving.

As you may not know, Mrs Croft is the daughter of an immigrant, John Foley from Galway.

There are Foleys – sometimes known as the Fighting Foleys – plentifully distributed on both sides of the Irish Sea and every three years or so there is an Anglo-Irish get-together, here or there. This year it was there, in Dublin. Forty-five enthusiastic tipplers.

For our two night stay I had my eye on an inexpensive B&B located in an unfashionable part of the city but Mrs Croft plumped for the Shelborne Hotel, expensively located right there in the centre of Dublin.

It has been a while since I had flown into the airport, which is now a spanking new affair that makes Heathrow look like a third world effort, with everything automated. It is only at security that you need to interact with a human being.

It was there that we witnessed, amid all the typically Irish good humour, a particularly surly fellow supervising the conveyor carrying our shoes, belts, carry-ons through the x-ray scanner. His ill-tempered barking of instructions to the many who were not seasoned travellers served only to fluster them and cause further delay.

He was unusual. He needs to be told that we are not all Marco Polos.

The removal of shoes was not universally required. My bulky (but stylish) suede boots stayed on, whereas tiny pumps that could barely hold five toes were ordered off. The would-be terrorist who concealed explosive material in his shoe on a ‘plane certainly had an impact: millions of weary passengers padding about in airports in their socks throughout the world.

Thankfully, we were spared the obvious conclusion when one of his colleagues hid a bomb in his Y-Fronts, but I would have loved to have been in the senior management meeting when that was discussed.

Dublin is a delightful city, as you may know but expensive; £650,000 for a tiny two-bed terraced house took me by surprise. The shops are excellent and Mrs Croft, who shopped for her county when still in her teens, buckled to with great gusto, and I spotted some chinos suitable to my snake-like hips and snapped them up at once. They were so much admired that evening when I swaggered about at a family gathering that I returned to the shop the following day and bought two more pairs.

The label proclaimed them to have been “styled in Germany”. I am not aware that the Germans are especially noted for their sense of style, but there we are.

There are BMWs, of course, and battle tanks though that was years ago and they are seldom mentioned - forgive and forget and all that. When we checked out of the hotel on leaving and I saw the bill I rather regretted this impetuosity on the trouser front, but I dare say they will see me out.

I noticed, incidentally, that in the smart new airport the signage was in two languages – English and what looked like Turkish.

If ever you visit Turkey you might like to bear in mind that “no photography” in the local language is “cosc ar ghrianshrafaoireacht”.

No wonder the Turks are having trouble getting into the EU; the simultaneous translation difficulties would be a nightmare and the Germans would feel out-classed.

We arrived back in Blighty to find newspaper reports of more idiocy coming out of NHS England.

Hospital shops, cafes and vending machines are now forbidden to sell confectionary that is loaded with more than 250 calories. This means that “family” bars of chocolate (636 calories), so-called “grab bags” and “good for sharing” lines will henceforth fall into the same category as fags and wood alcohol. It was revealed to the surprise of no-one who has visited a hospital recently that over half of NHS employees are overweight or obese. Has it not occurred to the geniuses behind this initiative that those with a fondness for chocolate will buy two bars to satisfy their craving?

Idiocy number two? All doctors and other health workers will be required to ask patients for details of their sexual orientation – gay, straight, bi-sexual or trans.

It will no longer be left to the professional judgement of doctors to explore such matters if it is pertinent to the clinical situation with which they are dealing at the time.

Never mind the NHS’s lamentable record in keeping personal information secure and my shyness when it comes to such matters, we shall all be obliged to “open the kimono” as our America friends so quaintly put it.

If and when I am asked I shall, of course, lie.

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