I have taken to watching the Great British Bake Off. This will be a surprising statement to those who know me. Cookery is most certainly not my cup of tea, and whilst I am happy to have my cake and eat it, I’m certainly not about to shove a bun in the oven. Not at my age.
It’s really my daughter who’s the fan. She’s a great hand in the kitchen. Well, what do you expect of a child who survived my cooking until she was about seven? At that point, she could reach the toaster on her own. She’s taken to this “bit of this, bit of that and bish bash bosh, it’s a three-course dinner for two’ malarkey with the enthusiasm of an Essex lad called Jamie.
On the occasions when mum, a woman who used to rule her school kitchen with a rod of iron and a measuring jug, is in residence in the East Wing, the two of them rustle up the tea and biscuits and commandeer the remote.
Obviously, I join them to be chummy and watch the entire event with the sort of expression I imagine Theresa May would use if someone tried to explain exact change on an Edinburgh bus to her.
Sitting between mum and daughter while they have an animated chat about dough, crumb and fondant icing makes me feel like a Cold War MI5 agent listening in to a particularly baffling phone tap between the Socialist Workers Party and the KGB. There are words, I just don’t quite know how they relate to each other.
Sometimes the Yorkshire husband wanders in and chucks in his tuppence worth, now that he has mastered bread baking and he can create Italian cakes involving ricotta cheese and hollow baking moulds.
Who would have thought baking cakes was such a serious business? Well, apart from Tunnock’s and Greggs, of course. And serious it is. Any chat from me is quickly silenced, although mum says that because I was talking rubbish, and if I didn’t know what had happened to Mel and Sue (I didn’t), then I should just sit there and have another custard cream.
She didn’t use the word rubbish, but a far saltier term I suspect she employed during her days as queen of the custard jug in the school dinners.
Bread just isn’t my bag unless it’s from Tesco
It was bread week. The contestants all blethered on about how fulfilling it was to make their own bread. I’m sure it is. But so is a tootle around Tesco for me, with the added bonus of the chance to pick up a bottle of something at the same time.
Bread sculptures. What on earth is the point of that? I didn’t say that aloud, obviously.
The intergenerational duo on the sofa had already made it clear that I was only permitted in the living room to let the cat in and out.
One bloke made a handbag out of bread with chorizo and cheese dough. Why would you do that? What could you use that for?
You can’t throw up in a handbag made of bread after an epic night out. And yes, I’ve seen that.
Not even the Water of Leith ducks would go for that. Trust me, our mallards are getting fussy.
Use your loaf
I may have accidentally sounded some objection to the bread bag.
And what, asked mamma, did I think my efforts to create a bread sculpture might be?
Easy, I said. Whole white loaf, entire jar of Dundee’s best strawberry preserve, bingo, bango, a giant piece and jam.
Look at the crumb on that.
No way is Jose getting in the tent
Naturally, I don’t understand the rules. This doesn’t stop me enjoying things, because when rules are infringed, it gets hugely interesting, especially in football. Then you get the arm-waving and shouting and Jose Mourinho gets all hot under the collar and, boy, does he look good with a bit of a temper on.
Bake Off doesn’t have ref whistles, red cards and angry sending-offs. There’s no sneaky foul action as far as I can see. No one is out to win, no matter what the cost, doing down another’s flaky pastry or sneering at a collapsed soufflé.
The contestants help each other, encourage each other and hug each other at the drop of a tear when someone gets a tad overwhelmed. That will never do. This is the very antithesis of the sort of dog-eat-dog, chase-every-buck, zero-hour contract society we are supposed to want to live in.
The Great British Bake Off could be the most dangerously subversive thing on the telly.
Villain of the ‘piece’
What they want in there is a bit of a villain who goes around opening oven doors at the wrong time and sucker punching a rising dough in the proofing drawer. A sort of free-range Boris Johnson. Alternatively, they could just start paying everyone Premiership footie salaries, sit back, and watch the fighting start.