It’s here! Without much in the way of fanfare, it’s finally arrived. Rejoice! Let the band strike up and brace yourself for the kind of tickertape parade that’ll look like your local Officeworks just exploded. With year of our Lord 2022 now upon us, embedded and moving like the clappers, we can now celebrate one of the most significant anniversaries within living memory or otherwise.
I, for one, can barely contain myself. Granted, containing myself is an odd task; one I usually perform by wrapping myself in sticky tape, but it’s no use – such is the extent of my excitement that I’m oozing out all over the place. Put simply, I am totally pumped. So much so that my buttons are in danger of bursting off my shirt, such is the strain. I’ve been waiting for this moment, it feels, forever and I am giddy at the fact of it finally being here. I speak, of course, of my father’s cheese crackers.
If that sounds underwhelming; these, it must be said, are no ordinary cheese crackers. I know how it goes for most people – they buy savoury biscuits and then, at some point, they eat them. Not my father. He was more taken with the tin rather than the contents and proudly put it on display, above the kitchen bench on a shelf. Without fear of exaggeration, it’s quite the bit of packaging; with a Renaissance-era painting of a damsel in flowing robes. Which is quite the statement for a biscuit. You don’t get that with an Iced Vo Vo.
I’m sure it’s not just my father who puts these kinds of things on the kitchen bench for all and sundry to admire. I guess others might have had a similarly visceral response to a biscuit tin if it was to a particular standard. They too might have put it on display to impress visitors. However, most people would have done something to account for the contents of the tin. That is, they would probably have emptied it. Not my father – he’s made of sterner stuff. He’s left the tin unopened.
Leaving the contents of a biscuit tin in an unconsumed state is something you can get away with for a time. But not for decades. That biscuit tin has now been occupying pride of place in my father’s kitchen since the 1990s. More than a mere receptacle for long-expired biscuits, the tin is now something of a time capsule.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the tin is so much more than just a decorative biscuit container – it’s a tomb for some long-expired cheese crackers. This savoury sarcophagus has remained unopened, now, for more than a quarter of a century. 2022 isn’t just another year. It is, in fact, the twenty-fifth anniversary of the use-by date.
It’s printed on the seal: 30 June 1997. That’s the date by which the biscuits were supposed to be consumed. It has to be said that my father has a history of treating use-by dates, at best, as a loose advisory and, at worst, with breath-taking contempt. It seems that for some people, pushing the envelope is a matter of gently positioning a piece of stationary. For my father, however, he is pushing that envelope right off the nearest cliff.
Exceeding the use by date by a quarter of a century is no small feat (although, ironically, my father has quite small feet, but that’s another story). It’s the silver jubilee. The only question is how best to celebrate it: commemorative coin or stamp? I, for one, look forward to receiving a letter through the post that has a picture of a cheese cracker biscuit tin as postage on the front.
The one thing we can’t do with the tin, however, is open it. Who knows what kind of foul smelling remnants are rotting behind the tin façade? For all I know, the pressure of the decaying matter has resulted in some kind of vacuum, and breaking the seal will cause some type of large-scale explosion that won’t so much rattle the cutlery as it will be seen from space.
Maybe it’ll be like that scene in ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’, where the Nazis prise open the Ark of the Covenant (which, if you think about it, would make quite the biscuit tin), letting slip a host of evil spirits that wreak a merciless vengeance on all who dare gaze upon them. You never know.
If that sounds like a lot to expect from a biscuit, then I can only say you clearly managed to avoid eating one of the revamped Barbecue Shapes before they quickly returned to the original recipe. (People are willing to accept the notion of ‘chicken in a biscuit’. Those things were evil in a biscuit.) The taste was so bad that, after eating one, I didn’t know whether to rinse my mouth out or call a priest.
In the end, I suspect the big day will come and go without any real fanfare. The fate of the cheese crackers was, much like the tin they’re in, sealed long ago. I dare say that they’ll be there in another twenty-five years and, frankly, may outlive us all. Maybe I’ll send it a card. Or a gift. It’ll be cheese, most likely. In truth, I’m not sure if my father ever thought of emptying the tin and never got around to it or simply forgot it was there. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. Sometimes things just turn out that way. After all, that’s the way the cookie, or cracker, crumbles.