By the time you read this, there will more than likely be a war on.
A war between countries traditionally seen as allies. A war between two former close friends, linked by common threads of history and heritage, proud bastions of democracy, freedom and justice.
Yes, dear reader (or readers, if there’s more than one of you left by now), before these words reach the public domain, it can confidently be predicted that Britain will be at war with Denmark.
You’ll probably know why. As reported widely in the media earlier this week, Denmark has banned Marmite.
Say it again slowly for full effect: Denmark. Has. Banned. Marmite.
There’s little more to say, but a lot more space to say it in, so let’s expand for a while on that ghastly thought.
It’s one of life’s great constants that you either love Marmite or you hate it. And if you hate it, you’re wrong. Fact. No arguments, please.
Marmite is the spread that made Britain great.
Marmite is to us Britons what the druid Getafix’s magic potion was to the Gaulish warrior Asterix.
Marmite takes mewling toddlers and moulds them into 16-stone second-row rugby forwards.
Marmite braces you at breakfast, lifts you at lunch and succours you at suppertime. A world without Marmite would be pale, insipid and downright unsavoury.
Yeasty, salty Marmite is packed with vitamin B12, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, celery extract and lots of other good stuff.
And that’s what those dastardly Danes don’t like. Back in 2004 they passed a law banning the addition of vitamins to foodstuffs. Now, seven years later, they’ve started to enforce it, and Marmite is vanishing fast from the supermarket shelves of Copenhagen, Aarhus and Esbjerg.
Not that it was ever much of a hot product in the land of Hamlet, little mermaids and Sandi Toksvig. If you ever visit a real Danish supermarket, you’d be hard-pushed to find anything that doesn’t taste of smoke. Or caraway seeds. Or both.
Let’s lighten up a bit. Time for a Danish joke. Q: Where do you hide a slice of Danish bacon? A: Behind a glass of water.
No, this won’t do. There are some things in life you have to take seriously. And the Danish Marmite ban is one of them.
Maybe it won’t actually lead to war, but it will certainly lead to a roaring trade in food parcels to our beleagured ex-pat friends and relations.
And it won’t just be Marmite in the parcels. Horlicks, Ovaltine and Farley’s Rusks have all fallen under the wrath of the Dane. As has the Vegemite, the antipodean version of our national spread. Never tried it, personally, but some folk swear by it. ("Bloody Vegemite," they say.)
It’s easy to see the roots of the ban in a massive and hitherto well-hidden international conspiracy. Prince Philip, of course, is closely related to the Danish royal family, and it’s a well-known fact that he doesn’t like Marmite (subs please check). Plus Iceland used to be part of Denmark, and they’re chucking another shedload of volcanic ash in our general direction. So it must be true. The Danes are out to get us.
But as with all good conspiracies, and to quote one well-known Dane: “The rest is silence.”