Meet the man who can taste words

MEET the man who can taste Blackpool.

Literally. And it tastes like fruit gums!

James Wannerton, of Marton, has the condition synaesthesia – in which at least two of the five senses are automatically joined together.

In his case, sound and taste are fused, so all sorts of noises trigger a taste sensation.

The 50-year-old describes the phenomenon as being like a 'dropper' dripping taste onto his tongue, but as well as the flavour, he also gets a sense of the texture and temperature.

The website designer, from Cherry Tree Road, said: "It can be a bit overwhelming at times and can also overpower the flavour of what I'm eating.

"I do feel a bit stupid saying things like somebody's name tastes like coconut, but it is something I can't control."

It is not just words which set off a taste in James' mouth, sounds and some places can do it as well.

He does not like to shop in Sainsbury's as he gets a strong taste of tangerine, while riding the Underground makes him taste rhubarb. Visiting Scotland provokes condensed milk, while the seaside puts him in mind of salty ham.

He has two labradors – whose barks taste like custard and crumbly chocolate.

The condition does make it tricky for James to date, as he sometimes really dislikes the taste of certain names.

And one unfortunate side-effect is frequent indigestion.

"People ask me though if I would want it taken away," said James.

"Maybe I would for a short time just to see what it was like, but I wouldn't want to be without it as I've had it all my life."

Dr Jamie Ward, from the University of Sussex, said: "James' is quite a rare form of synaesthesia, we only know of 20 others in the world."

Other forms include seeing words or numbers in colours, 'seeing' sounds or 'hearing' colours.

And as for me...apparently my name tastes like crushed Love Heart sweets.