Our cat does the 11+ and I refuse to buy age-appropriate beer

A new type of cat food has 11+ marked on the packet. This has nothing to do with entrance exams for grammar school, but it does have something to do with age.

We bought some for our cat because we calculate that she is beyond that marker now. It’s ten years since she took over the running of our house, and she was already a year or more when she arrived, sniffed a confident sniff and said to herself, “This’ll do.”

In an incident that went down in family legend, Lucy, who’d been on starvation rations at the cat rescue place, jumped later than day on to a kitchen surface and ate about half of a cooling cake.

That cat food made me wonder about human food being branded in the same fashion. Then I realised that sometimes I buy beer that has my age clearly marked on the bottle. Oh, hang on, I’ve missed out a decimal point here: that beer doesn’t say 62 but 6.2. Mind you, beer of 6.2 per cent alcohol is pushing it a bit. Wiser to drink beer that’s ‘younger’, although those strong craft ales do taste good.

Maybe there should be an inverse formula or something: if you’re 31 you can double your years to discover a suitable strength of alcohol in beer, while those of us of more advancing drinking years should opt for beer half our age. Doesn’t sound like much fun, though.

What other age warnings might be put on food? Some of the sourdough bread I make should perhaps carry an age caution. The other day as I took a bite, I heard the dentist tapping on the kitchen window to deliver a warning about unhappy meetings between ageing teeth and crusty bread. I turned away and carried on with a reckless chew.

Life can’t all be soup, even if some weeks life is all soup. Besides, that soup goes down better with crusty bread or toast.

It is to be hoped that the man who looks after my teeth didn’t spot the fruit and nut sourdough in the bread bin. Nuts are hazardous to molars, while dried fruit sits high on the dentists’ hitlist.

Apples already come adorned with annoying stickers, but so long as that label says ‘Cox’ on it, you can’t go far wrong at whatever age. No need for a sticker on toffee, not something I eat as a rule, especially the stuff that comes with a free filling-removal kit.

One of my grandmothers used to eat Complan, which seems to be baby food for old people. I’ve just googled and it’s still around, but with all respect to Grandma, I hope to avoid that sort of food. It will have to stay in the kitchen cupboard, along with the Methodism and teetotal wine served once as a lunchtime treat. A good year, but only if you liked your wine to taste like undiluted Ribena.

Fortified by a bowl of age-appropriate muesli, I set off to drive the hour to one of my jobs. It’s a cold morning and I search for gloves in my coat as I drive. Then I remove my wallet from the back pocket, because sitting on a wallet is not, as I have discovered, good for the back/arse muscles.

At work I let myself into the office where I have squatters’ rights, make tea and read all the emails from students who aren’t turning up today because they are ill.

Then I tap my empty back pocket and think, “Shit, where’s my wallet?” I dash to the car and search everywhere, but it’s not there. Back in the office, I drink tea and try to work it out. Then I spot the wallet in a side pocket in my leather bag, where it must have fallen when I removed it while driving.

Perhaps I should have had age-appropriate porridge instead. Isn’t it meant to be good for the brain?

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