I’ve discovered something else that I’m rubbish at: baking. It’s funny – I’d got the idea, even before the pandemic bit, that it might be nice to bake a cosy teacake.
But, by the time I got down to the supermarket for flour, the shelves had been cleared of it. Everyone else had had a similar idea.
It reminds me of when I was house-hunting pre-lockdown. You’d think you’d discovered an area where prices were cheaper, and that you were the only one to notice this. Then you’d head there surreptitiously, only to find yourself part of a great caravan of people who’d had exactly the same idea at exactly the same time.
Basically, every time you think you’ve discovered such a place, thousands of people will be thinking the same, and the price will be rising even as you’re pulling on your shoes.
However, back to baking: eventually, I got a bag of flour (the only one remaining) and followed a recipe discovered online. The cake, complete with glaze, looked so lovely that I took pictures of it. Then I committed the fundamental error of tasting it.
Actually, the taste was fine. But the consistency was like hard rubber. I went back online and concluded there’d been two possibilities: I’d put in too much flour and muscovado sugar, as it had specified cupfuls and I’d used mugs; or I’d stirred the ingredients too severely which, if I’ve read things right, can make things over-glutinous.
So, I tried again, this time with cups instead of mugs, and not mixing the ingredients so enthusiastically. I got a new cake tin, round instead of oblong. Once again, the cake looked great. Once again, I took photies. Once again, it tasted right chewy and I needed a hacksaw to slice it.
My morale plummeted. So I took a walk out in the garden and looked at all the dying plants that I’d planted. Gardening: something else at which I’m (all together now) … rubbish!
I don’t understand this. When I was a child, I excelled at everything except handwriting, chores, singing, dancing, staying clean, chewing my food properly, and walking in an upright manner. Then I grew up and became rubbish, or at best vaguely competent (sort of middling), at everything. Rubbish at all trades, master of nothing.
Maybe – no offence – you’re the same. I’ve spoken to friends my age who all agree we’re not the DIY men our fathers were. But some men are, and I suppose my pals are all from the useless, arty side of things.
Shouldn’t that make us good at gardening? Nope. Because gardening is also a practical business. I see other people – women especially – creating colourful, tasteful gardens as if they had a magical wand.
They’ve got the touch. In the meantime, I won’t be touching self-raising flour, raisins, muscovado sugar or mixed spice for some time to come, unless I try putting the self-raising flour on the flower beds to see if it makes anything come up.
As for muscovado: I don’t even know what that means. Is it Mexican for “useless”? You’ll be appalled to know that I left a raisin out for the wee solitary moose I sometimes catch scampering across the kitchen floor.
At least he says: “Thanks, Rab. I don’t think you’re rubbish.”