Caterpillar chocolate cake | Wikipedia

Caterpillar Turf Wars

A few decades ago, when I lived in central London, one of my son’s favourite treats was a pack of Colin the caterpillar chocolate cakes from M&S. I rather liked them too and would sneak one from the packet when the poor chap wasn’t looking. Even when we moved to Majorca and returned to London for short breaks, we’d often pick up a Colin as a naughty treat. Not surprisingly, he grew out of the obsession by about ten years old.

After catching up on ‘caterpillar-gate’ in the UK press, I realise that since those heady days, many imitators have come on the market. One of these is Aldi’s Cuthbert. To my amazement, I learnt that Tesco had a Curly, Sainsbury’s, Wiggles, Asda, Clyde, Morrison’s, Morris and the Coop, Curious. Who could have imagined that a caterpillar in chocolate guise could cause so much excitement and be in such demand?

Sadly, it seems that all these copy-caterpillars have upset M&S, particularly Aldi’s Cuthbert, and the retail chain is making an intellectual property bid legally. Aldi has hit back by re-launching its Cuthbert and sneakily raising funds for cancer from sales and bigging up its largesse on Twitter. This of course makes Aldi look saintly and has infuriated M&S’s legal team even more.

Social media forums have gone into overdrive regarding Colin and Cuthbert’s bust-up with one of the funniest skits being a Twitter re-imagining of the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in which Meghan is replaced by Cuthbert on the couch. How Britons love these absurd debacles.

One of my Mallorcan friends was mystified and said that English people and British press were really odd to get so wound up about a chocolate cake when the world was in the midst of Covid. But that’s the point, isn’t it? Everyone wants an inane distraction so that they can escape from reality even for a few minutes in time.

Ten years younger?

A friend in London was recently telling me about a television programme on Channel Five called Ten years younger in which those with low self-esteem were beautified by plastic surgeons, aesthetic tweakers and the like so that they hardly resembled their previous lined and haggard selves.

As I don’t watch the goggle box, I had a look online and sure enough, the transformations I saw were pretty incredible. Of course, this all makes for sensational TV viewing and there is always a generous dollop of tears of gratitude and disbelief from the poor old victims as they see the new ‘better versions’ of themselves, lathered in makeup with new hair dos.

Of course, you have to wonder what happens to them down the line when they are no longer TV rating-useful. Once they’ve done their bit on TV and thrilled the voyeurs, do they just wait until they slowly revert to their tired old selves or are the lashings of makeup, Botox and the like provided for life? I very much doubt it. It’s a one-time-only Cinderella moment for those unlikely to be able to afford to keep themselves spruced up like Hollywood belles, the affluent and the many TV presenters that grace our screens.

All the same, it reminds of a funny incident that happened to me many years ago. I was working for a big Hollywood name who was always picture perfect and dolled up to the nines. The media portrayed her as forever youthful, even when she was in her early sixties. One day, she invited me to her temporary residence on a plush square in London. It was early morning and the vision that greeted me in a negligée on the doorstep was a far cry from the coiffed and soignée creature that I met habitually in full war paint in my job. It took all my nerve not to yell out, so shocked was I by the transformation. It was like meeting her aged mother.

I had a similar experience when handling publicity for a well-known American singer. I adored her music and thought she looked gorgeous when we met but one night when she pulled off her wig and false eyelashes and took off all the paint, I was horrified. It taught me that beauty really is only skin-deep for some. The school dinner lady at my secondary school used to sing ‘A little bit of powder, a little bit of paint, makes a little lady look what she ain’t!’ How right she was.

The inner beauty of women who don’t need to transform themselves every day into what they consider to be a better version of themselves is so refreshing. Certainly, we can stick on some makeup, do our hair and don a nice dress for special occasions but to wear so much clobber that you become unrecognisable without it, is surely setting a dangerous precedent?

Royal Gold

With so much sadness currently engulfing the British Royal family, how refreshing and cheering it is to see Prince William and his down-to-earth and capable wife, Kate, taking control of things. At the funeral, Kate was there to keep the warring brothers at least communicating, and has evidently been a tower of strength to the Queen in her sorrow. Another rising star, often overlooked, is the Duchess of Wessex.

Sophie was the picture of poise and compassion before and throughout the funeral and for all the right reasons was praised for her sense of duty and loyalty to the Queen. What great women they both are. If only needy and delusional Meghan could take a small leaf out of their book.

Anna Nicholas’s second Mallorca based crime novel, Haunted Magpie, is available at Universal Bookshop, Portals Nous, from Come In & Llibres Colom in Palma, and at Alameda gift shop in Soller, also at all good UK bookshops & via amazon.