One day very recently I was making a stew and my (step)daughter was making brownies. The stew needed crusty bread and I forgot to get any, or start early enough to make any (the original plan). So while the stew was stewing I popped along to Tescos. Whether it was the smell of the brownies or just plain ol’ hunger, on my way to Tescos I was feeling a craving. A cereal bar, perhaps. Or chewy cookies. No! I had it–cake. Madeira cake.
I started contemplating Madeira cake. The yellowy dense cake that is a baseline for all cakes (in my mind). It should be called Cake, it’s so good. I decided I would announce to all my family and friends that when I am very old and they are struggling with what presents to bring me, if they just bring Cake I will be extremely happy. People often wonder what to bring the top level generations when they visit. Or what to buy for them at Christmas and birthdays. I smiled thinking of how funny (and wonderful) it would look to be surrounded by Cake. And maybe some grapes because I suspect Madeira cake has a tendancy to constipate if consumed in the quantities I hope to one day.
So I arrived at Tescos with my little list. I needed a couple of other things besides crusty bread as long as I was going to be there anyway. And of course now I had mentally added Cake to the list. I buzzed around the shop, collecting what I needed in my little basket, stopping at the Cake section to choose an especially nice section of Cake (cakes are often sold in sections in the UK, not whole, unless you specifically want a whole one. I know, but it’s probably for the best. Especially in my case.). I took my basket to the till, went through the checkout, paused at the newspapers to consider the whole concept of Prince Harry’s right to privacy and how I doubted the Sun was correct that a 20-something guy’s antics at a private party had any thing at all to do with public interests (and why isn’t anyone pilloring the girl who took the naked photos?). And I returned my thoughts to the Cake in my bag because I would soon have a bite of it.
I walked out to the car and had to pause to let a sleek woman in a sleek car drive past. She had one of those faces that never frowns, never smiles, nerver squints, never really moves and yet even without facial expressions manages to look amazingly beyond us all. I admired her cheekbones. She put the window down and said ‘I look like this because I don’t eat cake.’ No, not really, but it was in her look, you know.
I got in my car and with great delight, carefuly opened the pack of Cake (cumbs would be evidence of my weakness, and the sleek woman was making me feel a weensy bit guilty, but only a weensy bit), and ate some Cake. Several satisfying mouthfuls. Woo hoo! Yes, I knew brownies were witing for me after the stew, and I would eat them as well. Cake would not spoil my apetite for brownies (homemade, brownies!).
I tucked the Cake back in the bag and drove off, focusing on the picture back home, and the stew and the family waiting and I realised I forgot to buy the crusty bread I originally set out for. The whole shopping trip for wholesome crusty bread had been hijacked by Cake. But instead of being cross and annoyed with myself, I just started laughing–I had Cake in me! And Cake makes people happy. I went all the way round the roundabout and drove back to Tescos laughing at myself. I’ll bet the sleek woman would have been cross with herself (not that you would have known it), instead of laughing her way back to the grocery store.
But then again she wouldn’t have been distracted by buying Cake.