What do Jamie Oliver, anything Harry Potter, Guns 'n' Roses pre 1992 and just maybe the Alpha Course have in common?
Let me tell you.
I judged them to be doggerel and therefore worthy to be written off without further ado. Either that or a fashionable fad, and I hate those at the best of times.
I have many failings, dear readers (believe it or not), and one of them is that if I take against something, taken against it remains - together with everything to do with it. I would sooner eat my own kidneys than read Harry Potter and until today, regarded dear Jamie Oliver as something of a willy. He did little or nothing to deserve that, but sadly for him I then judged anything even remotely Oliveresque to be below contempt. I know, I am horrid. I even know I do it, but seem unable to do anything about it.
However, my weakness in this regard was brought into stark relief when the fragrant Mrs Acular elected to treat the La Famille l'Acule to a little food at 'Jamie's', his restaurant in Orxford. I have the man's recipe book at home and have fastidiously avoided opening it, so in the spirit of grudging gratitude accepted this kind yet unsolicited offer of free food. I am also blessed, incidentally, with an enlarged Curmudgeon Gland, so I pouted my way to the table with my kids, expecting to be assaulted with 'Pukka' and similar such mockney phraseology. Grrr.
It was a stunning meal. The kids' food was a delight and they found themselves loving fennel (or Joan the Fennel, in their world) and wifey's sardines. I loved my pork chop rather a lot, and it was served by helpful staff and upon wooden boards and in other quirky ways. I sat and ate pondering what an unimaginable muppet I had been to have disregarded this fabulous, effective and simple cuisine. So Jamie - I apologise. I was wrong. You are the mutt's nuts, and so is the food you designed and that my family loved.
I spent the afternoon reproaching myself for my needless prejudices. I am one of the nicest geezers you could meet, but for this tendency that I have to arrive at swift judgments every once in a while. That said, there have been times when that judgment was proved right several surly years later, but that is not the point.
At risk of tarring you with the same brush (Heaven forfend), I wonder how often we all do this. I can't be the only one to walk that path with things that we close out of our minds instantly and irretrievably. I will go further and state that I know it happens in churches, because I have seen it happen over many years. I know that in one case I have been the recipient. I think that in part it informs the chasm that exists between 'wings' of the church. One side thinks incense to be the fart of Beelzebub and the other that evangelisation is bordering on common assault. It happens, it is wrong, we all do it at times - but what to do about it?
I pondered about the moment when I must have taken against Jamie Oliver, and what they moment was. I can't remember. There must have been something simple and silly years ago, but like so many things, we forget the minor cause only to be left with the major ill-effect.