HERE we are six weeks after Christmas, and I still haven’t managed to eat my way through all the festive treats Mrs Hextol laid in.

She ordered her usual abundance of sticky and sugary sweetmeats, in the vain hope that lockdown would be eased round Christmas week to allow the usual multiple visitations by the merry hosts of ravenous family and friends.

Of course, Boris belatedly put his foot down and we were left with a mountain of mince pies, a Vesuvius of sausage rolls and several buckets of biscuits, Quality Street, Celebrations and much more besides.

We also had not one one but two Christmas cakes to get through, and only crumbs remain, and I have eaten most of the Milky Ways, which are always the last to go in any tub of Celebrations.

The one disappointment is that no one picked up on my increasingly unsubtle hints that I would like some liquorice - and lots of it.

When I was a boy, few Christmases went past without some kindly aunt or uncle buying me a liquorice smokers set, comprising a liquorice pipe with red sprinkles on the bowl representing the glowing baccy, and a bit fat cigar, along with several packets of toy cigarettes.

I loathed real smoking even then, but I loved all that delicious black gold, even though it did turn your teeth an interesting shade of brown.

I suppose it’s not politically correct to introduce children to smoking accoutrements these days, but young uns don’t know what they are missing.

At school, the tuck shop sold liquorice root, which many boys swore by, but my standpoint was, if I want to chew a stick, I’ll pluck one from the hedge, without having to pay a ha’ penny for it.

I did graduate to liquorice allsorts eventually, but they were a little light on actual liquorice, so I turned to Pontefract cakes and liquorice torpedoes, before settling on blackcurrant and liquorice

I hear now that a man in Massachusetts recently collapsed and died in a fast food restaurant, reputedly as a result of eating too much liquorice, so perhaps I haver had a lucky escape.

There is nothing more tempting to a portly and sweet toothed person like me than a panoply of plastic tubs, cling filmed plates and tempting boxes to dip into whilst passing, and the largesse this time is quite a novelty.

Before I retired, the only guaranteed break was Christmas Day itself, for Boxing Day was often a working day for a newspaperman, and while the rest of the world was stuffing its face with Ferrero Rochers and jumbo-sized tubes of Smarties, I was in the office trying to find choice items to fill the yawning spaces in the Courant.

There was often a rugby match to cover too, for every Boxing Day, Tynedale used to play Carlisle RUFC for the Hunting Horn Trophy, a tradition now lost in the annals of history.

The paper still had to come out, so there was little in the way of rest for reporters.

And when I did retire, and became involved with looking after rescue horses, Christmas Day was a working day too, for hungry horses still had to be mucked out and fed.

There was some consolation in the Christmas Day glass from the boss, whose heavy-handed dispensation of The Cratur ensured every snowflake that hit my face on the way back to the car - driven by Mrs Hextol of course sizzled into steamy nothingness.

But now I am confined to Hextol Towers awaiting my jab, and I cannot stop myself from dipping into the biscuit barrel, sweetie jar or selection box many times a day with disastrous effects on my waistline.

I still do lots of exercise, taking the dog for bracing walks every morning, often going miles out of my way to avoid the innumerable lockdown-ignoring trippers from Sunderland and beyond, who seem to think it is OK to take their “local” exercise up Hareshaw Linn.

However, all that fresh air only makes me more hungry than ever, and I raid the cake tin as soon as I get through the door.

It’s all boredom eating really, because I eat mountains of fruit as well, augmented by more chewing gum than Sam Allardyce gets through in a season.

But the trousers grow ever tighter and the belly more magisterial so my sleeve is already rolled up, waiting for the jab which will go a long way towards leading me away from temptation, and setting me free to resume a life of honest toil.