I’VE had a madeleine moment. You’ll recall that, in Jimmy Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the narrator eats a madeleine, a little cake, and the sensual experience unexpectedly transports him back to his childhood.

Well, I’ve had a similar experience – with a Star Bar. Because I eschew milk these days (not lactose intolerant but summat else inclines me thus), I can’t eat 90 per cent of chocolate bars, sticking to vegan ones and the like, which aren’t bad but somehow are never as sweet.

One day, though, I really fancied a Star Bar. Used to love these. Leading scientists at makers Cadbury say they’re made of “milk chocolate, surrounding a chewy cosmos of golden caramel and a blast of peanut that’s out of this world!” Yes, that’s exactly what I found.

So I had one for my evening meal recently and – wow! – I was suddenly away back to my early twenties, to the days when I lived on a terrible council estate (described, as was another I’d lived on, as the worst place in Europe).

I could sense, not really smell, but somehow feel the wee concrete flat and the burning cars outside. I’d ended up there as I was unemployable, having walked out of so many jobs, and also having a hammer and sickle tattooed on my forehead.

My last interview had been yonks before, when the interviewee before me had lied that the interviewer was deaf, so I spent the whole time shouting at him, using improvised sign language, and holding up pieces of paper with stick drawings on them to illustrate my points. I also thought that, as he was deaf, he wouldn’t hear my bottom blow a huge raspberry. Wrong.

To escape my surroundings, I’d walk in pleasant places nearby and dream of the day I’d have my own column in The Herald’s Saturday magazine. Sometimes, I’d go down to a pleasant dell, now – like so many other green places – ruined by cyclists.

Other times, I’d walk round a suburb where folk lived in nice houses and the man next door, newly released from prison, didn’t play Please Release Me over and over at top volume. Half-way round that walk was a sweetie shop, and it was here that I’d purchase my Star Bar.

It was my once-a-week treat, and I’d waddle home with it excitedly in the encroaching late afternoon darkness of autumn to snuggle down and watch the Cosgrove Hall series of The Wind in the Willows.

I loved that series so much, and the book too, even writing a full-length spoof of the latter, which someone took to the Frankfurt Book Fair, where I believe it was ritually burned.

I’m as much Mole from The Wind in the Willows as I am Bilbo from The Hobbit, hiding away and not given to adventures. Yet my home circumstances could not have been more different than Bilbo’s Bag End or Mole’s Mole End. I lived at Wit’s End.

My chair was from social services, and my television paid for monthly to Radio Rentals. People forget now that you had to get on a bus and actually go to the shop and hand over real, physical money for such things. Bizarre.

My recent sensual experience of the Star Bar – its succulent caramel, nuts and emulsifiers massaging my mouth, stroking my stomach, and seducing synapses in my brain – took me back to those days when hope seemed useless and all my ideals stood revealed as illusory. Which, oddly enough, is pretty much how I feel today.

After Life … nothing

ONCE more, I signed up to streaming service Netflix to watch Ricky Gervais’s wonderfully funny and moving After Life and, as before, when that was done I tried finding something else to watch and drew a blank.

Absurdly, then, I ended up streaming an episode of the original Star Trek, ‘Is There No Truth In Beauty’, that I already have on DVD, sitting on a shelf two feet from ma heid.

The episode features one of my great on-screen loves, the beautiful Diana Muldaur, whose telepathic character causes the death of all who love her. Thankfully, 50 per cent of my love also goes to Nichelle Nichols, Lt Uhura, so the situation is saved by her beauty and Capt Kirk’s heroism.

Important safety point: the lack of seatbelts in early Star Treks remains appalling. Every week, they get shoogled aboot by alien missiles, and nobody does anything about this. Even Spock can’t see it.

As for Kirk, I used to think him impossibly fat, but now I’m fatter, and I notice that the cheap uniforms make the actors’ moobs and tums look as bad as mine in a football top.

Meanwhile, having started yet again with the original Star Trek, I’m now having to re-watch the whole series. It’s almost a mercy that Ricky isn’t planning a fourth series of After Life. However, word is he’s working on something else for Netflix, so I’ll subscribe again and, when he’s done, will end up re-watching the original Twilight Zone (which I have on DVD) or something. Thus my life on a hamster wheel.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.