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Monday 23rd May 2005

I was trudging home with four or five heavy bags of shopping and was tired and hungry after the long drive back from Wales. Looking down at the floor in my hardship I spotted a Mars Bar on the floor. It was out of its packet and someone had taken a bite at it from both ends and then it had somehow found its way on to the floor by the bus shelter nearest my house (it was not a big enough prize for anyone to get any pleasure out of then lobbing it on top of the shelter). Presumably someone had been eating the Mars Bar (probably in a bit of a fiddly way if they liked to eat both ends first- there was some kind of story there. We will alas never know) and then had either tired of the sweetmeat or more likely dropped it and decided they didn't want to continue with their consumption of the confection which was now infected with Shepherd's Bush filth.
I had what Peter Baynham used to call a mad thought. What if I were to put down my shopping, pick up the remains of the Mars Bar and eat it? I think for starters it might be enough to convince Diane (who was with me at the time) that she is too good for me. I think I might get some odd looks from the people standing at the bus stop. It would also break my abstention from chocolate - not a piece has passed my lips intentionally all year (I have ingested some accidentally when a toffee turned out to be an eclair - the sweet, not the cake, come on be realistic).
But aside from the issues of diet and social convention, if you started eating things off the floor that had been bitten and slobbered on by unknown strangers, and then maybe weed on by a cat, would you be all right and on average how long would it be before you contracted a serious illness? You could save literally pence a day on buying expensive food. I saw a half eaten banana about twenty metres from the position of the Mars Bar the other day.
It's one of those issues, like the fact that I will never see my own skull, that occasionally captures my attention.
I would like to become known as the eccentric man of West London who eats things off the street, but only when someone has already taken a bite out of them, preferrably a bite from both ends (maybe two people had been sharing the Mars Bar in a similar way to how Lady and the Tramp share the spaghetti - though not quite as romantic and a bit fiddly, which is probably how they ended up dropping it).
It would have been a shame if I had broken my chocolate embargo with such a grotesque confection, but an interesting social experiment nonetheless. I think every May 23rd from now on people should all eat one thing off the floor and see how many of us die or get ill and then we will have statistics on the subject. Though I suspect that if it was an official day, some sick subversives would put down poisoned food, which would throw the research all out of whack.
It's a sad world we live in, where a man can't conduct an experiment like this.

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