Mary Berry deserves her CBE. And I will tell you for why. Because children are disgusting, that’s why. And last Wednesday Mary Berry did her bit for charity and took one in the gut and judged a local toddler bake off in the village next to mine. Not Toddler Bake-Off in the sense of toddlers sizzling on a BBQ or baked into pies along with some blackbirds. No. The children were presenting her with chocolate cornflake cakes welded together with snot, and fairy cakes with a hint of spit. Lucky Mary! She stood alone at the front of a roaring sea of Cath Kidston and chariots of Bugaboo’s and Quinny’s, like a modern day Braveheart, ready to, most likely, wish that her guts had been disembowelled from her body after tasting some of the little beauties knocked up by 4 year olds. What a brave, brave lady. Because we ALL know how children bake. And it isn’t with any kind of appreciation for hygiene whatsoever. And Mary has offered to nibble on their little buggy, bogey biscuits to raise money for charity. Fair play. I would donate money just to save her from such an ordeal. But if I did that it would mean I wouldn’t get to meet her, so the kids are going to pay me back for stretching my stomach muscles and making my ass 2 sizes bigger than it was 5 years ago.
“Right!” I say “Wash your hands before you start baking, boys!” (thinking to myself “Please don’t let us be the family that gives Mary the trots”)
They look horrified. They have been working on collecting that dirt and filth all morning and it is coming along quite nicely, thank you very much. But dirty nails and sticky palms can always be worked on another time and when weighed up against licking raw eggs and sugary cake mix from a wooden spoon, they trudge off to the bathroom. A tap turns on. Tap turns off (a bit too quickly for my liking). They lollop in to kitchen. They monkey swing their bodies on to the kitchen stools. Ed sneezes into his hand. Alex coughs into his. Under heavy eyelids they sneek a peek to see if I noticed. I did. They sigh. They slink down from the kitchen stools. Trudge back to the bathroom. On goes the tap. Off goes the tap. Back they come. Monkey swing their bodies on to the stools. Ed picks his nose.
As we repeat the above about 3 times I think back to when I worked in social services. I had organised for an elderly man with learning disabilities to have cooking lessons, so he could make himself something other than toast. He was learning to make biscuits and when I arrived to see him one day he presented me with the very first biscuit he had ever made. And he proudly told me it was for me. He had even drawn an “H” on it in blue icing. I was so touched. And I welled up. As I put it in my mouth and took the first bite he said to me:
“Yeah, it is GREAT making biscuits because that dough got all the dirt off my hands and made them all nice and clean!”.
Sweet Mary, mother of the lemon drizzle cake Gods! WE WILL NOT BE THE FAMILY THAT GIVES MARY THE TROTS!
What we DID do, in the end, was give Mary hope that the future is bright and full of baking promise. That baking promise for the future being My Son. Mary Berry publicly HIGHLY COMMENDED him for his shortbread biscuits. Thus doth therefore art there thou and forth, from the fruit of my loins, provide hope for the future. I was so proud of him! And I demonstrated this in a crowded room full of respected NCT type mothers and Church types and a million digital cameras by shaking Ed vigourously and continually for several seconds by his shoulders with a manic grinning expression on my face saying:
“WE CAME SECOND! WE CAME SECOND!” and with a firm hand shoved Ed towards Mary (whiplash) for a photo op, where underneath her nose Ed loudly asked:
“Where’s my prize then?”
And I shoved my hand firmly over his mouth and yanked him back by his face (whiplash), smiling like a crazy lady, bug eyed and jittery
“Don’t be rude darling!” and wobbled my head from side to side fake laughing like a mentalist.
I got to meet her. I joined the queue of over-enthusiastic stabby elbows and flashing cameras…Clutching my cookbook to my chest, grinning and doing a low-toned monotone nervous giggle (try it – you know what I mean) having no idea whatsoever where the children had got to. I edged closer to her… I was at the front of the queue…And I found I was forcing my lips in to a smile that looked like a cat’s bum. I was trying to twist my face in to the most polite expression my face has ever, ever been but my eye was twitching. My shoulders hunched over to signify meekness in her presence and respect, I probably just looked like I was mental with a catelogue of restraining orders against me…I opened my eyes big and wide and did a tiny involuntary curtsey.
But I got a photo. Here I am. My big moon face orbitting Mary’s tiny pretty planet head. Doesn’t she look a bit frightened? (I hadn’t whispered in her ear “Be my nan” or anything seconds before that photo was taken or ANYTHING…*cough*)
And then I didn’t leave. Looking back, it was like her from Notting Hill when she follows Julia Roberts into the toilet, still talking. Luckily for me (in my trance) and Mary (her face beginning to show concern), Buckinghamshire is full of pushy mothers and one swooped in and shoved a camera in my face
“Can you take a photo of me and Mary?”.
Never have I been more pleased to be bullied out of the way by a pushy mother. Thank God. Thank Mary. Thank Mary Mother of The lemon Drizzle Cake God.