Apparently, sugar is bad. REALLY BAD. According to nutritionists, doctors, scientists and ‘experts', having a custard cream is now only slightly less injurious to your body as shooting up a speedball in a disused public toilet. We are all hopeless zombie addicts, lurching from one Hobnob fix to the next, pumping our bloodstreams with granulated FILTH. It's a wonder we can even look ourselves in the eye.
Scientists from Cambridge University have found that the average person consumes half a pound of sugar a day. (Yes, sugar is in everything, from rice and bagels to walls and carpets.) They ‘ve also found that it's as bad as alcohol and smoking – it overloads your liver, causes insulin resistance, gives you cancer and is highly addictive. And the sugar-free icing on the cake: by 2050 science predicts that we'll all be obese butterballs with diabetes, rolling down the street to a soundtrack of parping tuba music.
Well, you know what? BRING IT ON. I'm willing to take the risk. Winch me out of the house with a crane, because sugar is great. It is a sprinkle of magical joy on life's congealed oatmeal. Without it, the world would be low-GI and low in fun – a tedious endurance test; a million Januarys rolled into one.
As I eat my third double chocolate Digestive biscuit, let me point out that our interest in sugar is innate. It's a caveman thing. Because most sweet things in nature are usually edible and not poisonous, we've all been sugar junkies since the year dot. If in doubt about this highly dubious science ‘fact', go and talk to a child and you'll see they're all genetically programmed to be mad for the stuff. From the moment we all grow the teeth that we're inevitably going to ruin by eating sugar, our main mission in life becomes finding and getting as much sugar as we can. We are born, and then WE WANT CANDY. Then, when we get old, we reach for the Werther's Originals and fill our big old lady handbags with as many boiled sweets as we can, because we'll die soon and we don't have any real teeth left anyway – WOOOO!
And I think that as natural born sugar addicts, it has an important role to play in our mental health. Sweet things make us glad, and they open up a portal to another better, brighter world, a world where everything is bright and colourful and fun. It's the gateway to our imagination. I dare you not to get a Proustian rush from Jelly Tots or Tutti Fruttis. TUTTI FRUTTIS! (Even just remembering those squares of weirdly coloured e-numbers has made me instantly happy). Adults can talk for hours about the sweeties of their youth and the exact size and dimensions of Curly Wurlys through the ages until their eyes brim with nostalgic tears. Can you do that about porridge? No.
If you want further proof that sugar is good for us, you only have to read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Poor Charlie Bucket grew up on cabbage soup and slept in the same rancid bed as his smelly grandparents. Sugar, though, was his way out of poverty. It was literally his (golden) ticket to a better life, where rivers of chocolate flowed and the grass was made of lurid green fondant. These days, Charlie would be told that he wasn't allowed a Wonka bar because it would make him obese by 2050, and would have probably been handed a boring bag of cashew nuts. And instead of having a whole factory full of sweet treats and Oompa Loompas at his disposal, he'd be back in his shack, paying bedroom tax and fiddling grandpa's disability benefit.
I reckon if you give up sugar, you give up fun. Without sugar, there would be nothing to yearn for, nothing to look forward to, no highs and lows. Nothing to tempt us or stimulate our minds. Instead we'll just be flat and wholesome, like human Ryvita. Sugar is also romantic and loaded with symbolism. It's sexy and sweet and a little bit forbidden. Can you imagine if all the delicious patisseries in Paris replaced their apricot glazed pastries and technicolour macarons with sugar-free nut bars and hemp? And what about rock and roll? Where would that be without sugar? ‘Stevia, Stevia' doesn't have the same ring to it, does it? ‘Pour Some Splenda on Me?' ‘Savoury Child of Mine?' Pah. Forget it. You know what, if sugar kills me, I don't care – because an unsweetened life is no kind of life at all.