“IT’S a good job you’re over 16,” said the smiling young man at the checkout in Catterick Tesco (how did he know that?) as he scanned the six teaspoons I’d bought to replace the dozens that disappear without trace or explanation every week. “Why’s that?” I asked. “Because you couldn’t buy these if you weren’t.” He waved the teaspoons in the general direction of his screen, to indicate an alert had appeared there, warning him to check the customer’s age before allowing the purchase. “Of teaspoons? You’re joking?” He was deadly serious. For no particular reason I asked Dave, the lighting man who visited the chapel today, if he had any idea what would possess some mad bureaucrat to designate teaspoons a potential danger to the under-16s. Could he, as it were, shed any light on this latest mystery of the universe? He looked at me knowingly across the kitchen table, pressed his forefinger against one nostril, and sniffed. “That’s your answer,” he said with some authority. “They use them to mix their – you know . . .” I didn’t know, but I think he probably meant cocaine. Or coke. I don’t know the difference, if there is one. And I thought the builders were using them to stir their tea.
So there we have it, the ultimate madness of the modern world that is 21st century Britain. Girls below the age of consent can now be fitted with 99 percent effective inter-uterine devices or contraceptive implants (long-acting reversible contraceptives – LARC, ironically) for up to five years so government targets on reducing teenage pregnancies and abortions can be met, but they can’t buy teaspoons in Tesco in case they use them for mixing their drugs. Sounds like one for the Daily Mail.