Can anyone explain why someone might want to eat a prawn-cocktail flavour Snack-a-Jack? And, having eaten one, go on to eat the rest of the pack? I’ve never got this whole low-fat snack thing in general – didn’t anybody’s mother tell them simply not to eat between meals if they want to lose weight? – but I had assumed that they worked by tasting a bit like the real thing, or at least enough so that you didn’t immediately run off and buy a multi-pack of Walkers crisps and scoff the lot to get the taste out of your mouth. But then this woman sat down next to me on the train and opened a packet of the dreadful things and this smell wafted across my nose – a smell so nasty and chemical that my first thought was that the train was on fire and that someone had tried to put it out with a bucket of Dettol. She was eating them by picking one out of the packet and staring at it in horror, then putting it in her mouth with an expression of disgust on her face. Having choked that one down she paused to let the trauma recede, steeled herself, and reached in for the next. It took from Barnes Bridge to Clapham Junction and all the while I was having to restrain myself from turning round and checking to make sure that the train really wasn’t on fire. Clearly the way these things work is as some sort of snack aversion therapy.

Anyway she finally finished the bag – and I hope she collected on her bet – folded it up, and then went to sit somewhere else. Presumably because the smell was still lingering round our seats and she didn’t want to have to breathe it in. And now I’ve had to go and eat a whole bag of full fat crisps to get the smell out of my brain.


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