As a boy, the future polar explorer Roald Amundsen would lie in a bath filled with ice cubes, in order to experience arctic temperatures.  I do something similar after the wine waiter has removed the cork.  Not that I’d ever add ice to a glass or wine, of course, let alone a bath, if I ever take one again.

In an even more elastic analogy, tiny amounts of vaccine kept in fridges have prevented many of us from becoming ill in recent times.  “Taster-virus,” a Texan writer wrote to me.  “Enough to let your body know you wouldn’t want the whole enchilada.  Not an amuse-bouche at all.”  You can tell my friend is a restaurant critic.

Amundsen eventually used some of his sled dogs to feed the others, something Captain Scott’s lot never did, I’m glad to say.  Talk about dog eat dog, it makes me shiver just to think of it.

An off-putting initial experience of something doesn’t always put people off.  It often fails spectacularly, as adolescents cough and splutter over their first cigarette, yet go on to become lifelong smokers, however long that subsequent life turns out to be.

I feel particularly virtuous — more than I usually do — to report that I never smoked, even when scurrilous shopkeepers sold single cigarettes to children for a penny.  Or was it two for a farthing, I hardly remember now.

The Offer of a Lifetime by David Aitken
Kid smashing piggy bank to pay for cigarettes. Shopkeeper says: ‘Hey, are you sure you’re old enough?’

The more money we pay for things, the more we tend to be impressed by them, apart from dental extractions.  Shoes and expensive meals are two good examples, although personally, I would run barefoot through fields of ice cubes for a good fillet steak in a bistro carpeted with sawdust.

Our whole culture has become predisposed to the proposition ‘try before you buy.’  We are encouraged to read samples of electronic books before we suffer the shock of parting with cash.  And what are tapas and mezes, if not an invitation to taste a little of everything before surfeit overwhelms us?

Similarly, in what I suppose I must now refer to as the old days, we went into a gents’ outfitters or a ladieswear boutique, and tried on a jacket or frock before either (a) deciding against it or (b) buying two other frocks as well, and a nice pair of shoes.  However, as far as Covid vaccines are concerned, not only does one size fit all, but once the goods are delivered, nobody twists either of your arms for payment.

It’s literally the offer of a lifetime.  Who could refuse a bargain like that?