Go Shorty

It’s my birthday. Or rather, it was my birthday. Time’s relentless march forward rather ensures my birthday only lasts the same length of time as all the rather more mundane dates in the year which are not my birthday. This strikes me as being a trifle unfair especially given that a wet Sunday afternoon is able to expand into the same length of time traditionally given their own designation by palaeontology departments.
In retaliation for this time based injustice, I like to stretch my birthday as far into the surrounding days as I can get away with. Strider, who lacked the foresight to be born at a time of year when nothing much else is happening, rolls her eyes at me and asks sarcastically if I am still a birthday princess, little realising that if she is going to ask, the answer is will always be yes.

I don’t traditionally do much for my birthday. I demand presents and attention and cups of tea I haven’t had to make myself but other than that it is a quiet affair. Obviously, with Strider being as stingy as she is I can be flexible on the presents and with the Cat as noisy and demanding as ever, attention is often given to her rather than me and while He Who Knows Everything is happy to make me a cup of tea, most of the time I prefer that he doesn’t.
The only thing I do demand, with no exceptions given, is cake.

Cake is important and birthday cake is doubly so. Without a cake setting off the smoke alarms, a birthday would just be any other day but (hopefully) with added receiving things. As cake is so important, I refuse to settle for any of the Tesco bought nonsense however much in the shape of an 80’s icon it is. I also refuse to settle for a cake purchased from the local bakery as they tend to have an obscene amount of aerosol whipped cream in the middle. Instead I request that Mammy bake me one from scratch.

Mammy is a very lovely woman whose talents are myriad and varied. Unfortunately, baking is not one of these talents.
Mammy is not a terrible cook. She can be a very good cook. It’s just that much of the time she grows bored half way through the process and wanders off leading to a house full of firemen and an indelible stain baked onto the bottom of the oven. At other times she will become enthusiastic about a recipe but omit and substitute ingredients according to mood or immediate availability. An inadvertent noodle and stilton soup was once created from a recipe originally entitled Goats Cheese and Sun dried Tomato pasta sauce.
Much of my childhood was blighted by Mammy’s insistence that a piece of bacon and a tin of plum tomatoes was a balanced meal, that we would all die instantly of salmonella should any food be served without a coating of charcoal and that aubergines are the perfect vegetable for adding cheese to and baking for three hours. If it hadn’t been for the E numbers in the coatings of Findas Crispy Pancakes, I would never have made it out alive.

The first year I demanded home made cake, Mammy did what any other person in the world would not. She went to Marks and Spencer, purchased a tub of chocolate coated mini swiss rolls and spent a constructive half an hour with a box of matches strategically melting them into a pyramid.
The second year I demanded home made cake, Mammy attempted a Victoria Sponge. I know that is what it was meant to be because I had a look at the recipe. What it turned out to be was an 8 inch square suitable for board games.
A year or two later, I requested a rather marvellous cake Strider and I made in our childhood called a Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake. Mammy obediently dug out the recipe and, upon finding that half of the instructions had stuck to another page and become illegible, opted to make them up instead. The result was so good, I chose to enjoy my piece next to the bin.

Since that time, I have remained silent on the subject of what kind of cake I would like baked in the hope that Mammy will not attempt it. Instead, she has fallen into the yearly routine of attempting to perfect the Victoria Sponge. It hasn’t gone well.
A Victoria sponge is a very basic cake but it is also a very difficult cake. It is the cake that sorts to bakers from the pancake makers. If you can bake a Victoria sponge, you can bake anything.
As it happens, I can bake a Victoria Sponge. People ring me up to let me know they will be dropping by in the hope I will bake a cake for them. Everybody thinks my cake is wonderful although personally speaking, I can take it or leave it. My cake ability does not help Mammy feel better about her failures.

This year’s cake was rather black around the outside. As a backup cake, Mammy attempted a different kind of sponge but, failing to realise a cake tin is different from a sandwich tin, ended up with a mushroom.

Still. Despite the hatred of the task and the constant failure, every single year Mammy attempts to get it right. I don’t mind that she creates things other people would require a lightning rod to produce, she makes the effort to get it right and that, my friends, is worth far more than cake.

In other news: I have received a perplexing amount of hits from a variety of people using the search terms Alright, Constable and Please Be Gentle. Now I’ve managed to use the terms obscene and whipped cream in a post, I anticipate even more popularity.


sarah said...


yay for us cool cool July people.

I love that your mom tried to bake you a cake... its cute that she tried, even though her final product sounds like it could have doubled as a nuclear reactor :p

random idea : do you want to do a birthday present swap? i can send you something random from japan land.

or is that too high school??

durdlin said...

More July people... good gravy. It's my birthday on Friday!

High five anyone?

Theo said...

Sarah - Given that I was staying out of the post office on account of having not Swine Flu and it is now, oh gosh, ages since our birthdays, it seems a little late.
We definitely have to exchange gifts for christmas though. I would hate to think of you sitting in Japan on Christmas day eating cake with a boy when you could be rejoicing in Irish tat from the Tourist Information office.

Durdlin - YAY! BIRTHDAY!