I am eating a mint imperial. Mint imperials always make me think of a man called Bob. Bob was the gentleman friend of my mum’s friend Doreen. Doreen was as brassy as an ex-hairdresser from Chadderton comes. I loved her, wanted to be her, with her bottle blonde hair swept up in a beehive. She was blowsy, my dad said. I thought he meant blousey, on account of her liking for frilly necklines that plunged. Later I learned what he meant. Doreen had a biscuit tin with a Spanish flamenco dancer on the lid. She used to let me take two biscuits, one a pink wafer, the other a custard cream. Bob was her frequent caller who would take her off to stay at The Balmoral in Blackpool every summer. Mum would take me on day trips to visit them. Lucky them. Bob would always have mint imperials at the ready. Hot and peppery, not quite a sweet, shocking but compellingly moreish. We would bowl around the Pleasure Beach, Bob going on rides with me that mum and Doreen couldn’t stomach. When Doreen became diabetic, Bob moved in with her and became the official bearer of her emergency Mars Bar.