It’s with great pleasure that I’m welcoming Martin Strike aka The Newbury Short Story Teller back to my Guest Writer Spot. This week, he has a fabulous story to tell:
Browned Off at The Great British Bake Off
Let me introduce you. These are cats. Three cats sailing a on a cat-à-meringue.Mrs Pastry is on the left, Toots is looking rather shocked on the right, albeit Karmoon is not actually taking him up the plum duff despite his smug look. Yes, it was ‘desserts’ week on the Great British Bake Off contest this week on British TV and Jo had obtained tickets for us to be in the audience for the follow-up programme An Extra Slice. Regular viewers will know this second show is a humorous pick over the bones of that week’s main contest, with celebrity guests brought in to take the piss out of the home-bakes that the audience bring in to try and get their fizzogs on the tele.
Being no less shallow than anyone else, we struggled in the 60 miles or so to the studio with a large Tupperware case bearing the catty trinity. Let me explain further:
Toots was Jo’s dearly loved companion and friend for 19 years. He certainly vetted me when I first met Jo. He learned to display indifference to my presence, though rubbed between my shins like we were bestie beastie buddies whenever it was my turn to dish out his food sachets. Like most cats, he was a little shit, bless him, but he was as much part of the family as anyone else and is sorely missed. He would have been very touched by this meringue tribute, though would probably been more interested in having some ham placed in his bowl.
Mrs Pastry currently holds the position of house cat. She joined us from the local Cat Rescue Home a year and a week ago. We could not countenance keeping her Christian name of ‘Sophie’, and as she has a face like a pork pie, Mrs Pastry seemed to fit as well as rhyme. She does not hiss at me quite so much these days with her 3 remaining teeth, though is perfectly happy to take my place on the sofa when I’m not occupying it, and raking holes in my precious lawn before shitting in them. Still, better she sits on the sofa and shits on the grass than the other way round I guess.
Karmoon, you will have worked out is my most favourite of cats. i.e. a fictitious one. You will see him modelled here as rowing the boat with balsa kebab skewers over a meringue sea. I considered this a maritime feline delicacy a fine dine, even if my being married to its maker could suggest I am biased. I’m not. Jo bakes confections of beauty and character, albeit that this one was nearer the character end of the dial.
Come the day of the filming, we had stood in the queue outside the studio for over an hour with the nicest of people. There should be a collective name for a line of bakers, perhaps a yum-yum of bakers, they were all so sweet. Eventually a researcher was sent out to inspect the many bakes the audience had brought in. Those we could see being judged were lovely; we saw cupcakes, lemon meringues and sweetmeats of high quality, but perhaps missing the vital ingredients of character or back story. Then it was out turn. Jo carefully removed the lid. As feared, our traverse over the variable surfaces of the M4 motorway had taken its toll, and the babies were not looking great. Ears had come adrift and bodies had cracked. The cat-á-meringue was certainly no longer seaworthy and one of Mrs Pastry’s’ eyes had slipped down her cheek, hanging-on by a sugary optic nerve, while one of Toot’s lay at its paws staring at the researcher who had to take a step back. Once he had got over his shock, Jo started telling him their story which he started record on a clipboard: something that he did not do with any of the perfectly iced yet dull buns and confections. Jo winked at me: we knew the cats and we were going to get on the show.
Except that we weren’t. The researcher never came back to upgrade our wristbands to allow us into the front rows of the studio so we sat at the back with the other overlooked bakes along with those who didn’t even bother bringing one. To show our distain we munched our way as loudly as we could through the broken, sickly -sweet pieces, hoping our open-jawed attacks would be picked up by the mikes.
Come transmission night, and there was no retributive chomping to be heard from us, but there were three separate shots where we could just about be seen in the background. I’m sure you saw us, but in case you blinked: here goes…