4. Village survival, 132 cupcakes.


Welcome to my fictional blog, if you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to read my About  and how about 1.Village Survival, starting from now!  2.Village Survival, when life gives you horse manure – plant roses!  3.Village survival, the school gates & no one likes a show off!

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Cupcake header

So this is how my morning started! In the build up to getting the kids to school I managed to find 3 minutes to apply some make-up. Toby, my eight year old came sidling up.                                     “Murrrrm,” it was a long Mum so I knew he either wanted something or had done something wrong! He continued, “What’s £3.99 plus £3.99 plus £3.99 plus £3.99 plus £4.99 plus £2.99 plus £5.99?”                                                                                                                       “Is that a homework question?” I asked naively.                                                                                 “I just need to know the answer.”
“Well, I’d do it – 400 plus 400 plus 400 plus 400 plus 500 plus 300 plus 600 pence and then take away the 1 pees and put the decimal point back in!”
Toby looked at me like I was speaking Flemish, so I totted the sum up in my head.
“£29.93,” I said, giving him the answer.
“Oh dear,” he replied in a small voice.
“Oh dear what?” but the penny was already slowly dropping, and – stabbing myself in the eye with my mascara wand, I shrieked, “you’ve gone and spent all Granny’s Christmas iTunes voucher in one go haven’t you! How did you know the password?” I stormed.
“Lottie told me,”
“How (the hell) does she know it?”
“She pretends she’s not watching you type it in- but really she is,” I could hear the durr in his voice. He was more than happy to throw his sister under the bus.
“Right well, you’ve squandered the whole £15 voucher and the other £14-whatever you spent is coming out of your bank account,” my voice got shriller and shriller, then I asked – as an after thought, “what did you buy?”
“Minecraft stuff.”
“What Minecraft stuff?”
“Minecraft blksjahaskhfksjh,”it was a foreign language to me but I pretended to know what he was talking about.
“I’m so disappointed that you actually used the password and didn’t even ask me or Dad to OK what you were buying! Didn’t you know what you were spending?” I fumed. Toby had probably only come clean because he had remembered that we’d get an automated email informing us of his online shopping splurge!
“Do you have to tell Dad?”
Crap and bollox, I wasn’t on top of this internet stuff at all. Yes, I did have to tell Ted my (quite laid back) husband. I don’t know what Toby was so worried about, it wasn’t as if his Dad was going to scalp him. We would have to look at Toby’s mini iPad together, find out what he had actually been putting on it and change the bloody password (which was a total arse because it was linked to the rubbish family iPad- which no one likes using because it’s so old and switches itself off half the time). My knowledge of e-safety was epically poor. I’d have to buy a self help book – E-Safety for total Numpties – what to do when you know nothing about what your kids are actually doing on the internet. Catchy title, huh.
“And the iPad is banned for…for (I was trying to think)…..for a week,” I barked.
Toby began crying like a three year old, such was his adoration for the device.
“I’m soooorrrrrryyyy,” he snivelled, and he actually sounded contrite – hmmm the consequences of his actions were sinking in. I almost felt sorry for him (for like a nano second)…the little……! So then I had to speak to Lottie about sneaking the password and telling it to Toby…..bleeeeuugh!
After the school drop off I decided to do a quick loop walk of the village to clear my head of parenting – or crap parenting in my case! The sun was blazing convincingly and the air was starting to feel slightly warmer, the balance was tipping into Spring! I followed the bridle path past the Church and up All Saints Lane (where there was rather a lot of dog poo – good job PC Dawn Brent was investigating!) and walked home avoiding the shadows so I could feel the sun on my face. Today I was going to get lots of writing done-Yay! I actually felt motivated as I sat down with a cup of tea and turned my computer on – waiting for it to come to life.
Ping, a text appeared on my phone from Anna (local best friend):
HELP am desperate! Have big Wed cake order gone wrong, bride picking up today. Can you come round, need another pair of hands, will make lunch! Will babysit the kids on Saturday night! Will do Anything! HELP 😉 xx ps Have 48 reject cupcakes that need eating!
How could I say no to that!
I texted. C U in 5 x
My writing would have to wait until this evening when the kids were in bed.
I O U the big one! xxxxxxxx 🙂 came her reply.
I found Anna in a sea of dark chocolate and salted caramel cupcakes. They were everywhere and on every surface in various stages of development, some were cooling on racks and others partly iced and waiting to be finished. The air was sweet and misty with icing sugar dust and the smell of baking. Anna looked like a crazed contestant from Bake Off – gone feral, with chocolatey smears on her face and a gloopy cake mix streak in her hair. A promo picture opportunity for her website – it wasn’t!
“Hillie, Hillie, thank god you’re here. I’ve been up since 4.am baking! The first batches of cupcakes were crap, so I had to tweak the recipe until it was right, and the last batch have only just come out of the oven! There’s 132 of them and the bride is due to collect them in 3 hours!” Anna monologued frantically. It wasn’t often I saw Anna this frazzled! “I haven’t even started on the top cake – white chocolate and raspberry sponge!” she added.
“What can I do?” I asked, before removing my jacket, washing my hands and rummaging in her drawer for an apron. “I’ll start by putting the kettle on,” I suggested, trying to be a calming influence.
In the corner of my eye I saw Anna suddenly slump down in the patterned winged back chair near the Aga – she had tears sliding down her face and then she burst into sobs.
“Hey you,” I said gently, walking over and putting an arm around her shoulder, “You’ll get the cake done! We’ll do it together – think of me as your gofer-lackey-baking slave!” I said jokily.
“It’s not the stupid bloody wedding cake…..” she sniffed, “…. Ben wants to move out.”
Holy hell, I wasn’t expecting that curve ball. Fannying around with cupcakes – yes – but not marriage break downs. Sh*t. Anna and her husband Ben were already sleeping in separate bedrooms – and had been for over a year. They obviously needed some outside help, but I wasn’t sure either of them would have any truck with marriage guidance.
“How do you know he wants to leave?” I asked, reaching for some mugs and finding the tin of coffee.
“We’ve been arguing again…mostly over the kids and just about everything, he says he wants to look into renting a flat near to his work,” Anna answered sniffing, her face crumpling again.
“You’ve got a really bad nose drip,” I pointed out. Anna grabbed an unsuspecting tea towel and blew her nose noisily in it, the Food Standards Agency would be thrilled, then she took a few calming yogic breaths or rather gulps.                                                                                      “Give yourself a minute,” I suggested.
“S’pose you’d better make a cup of coffee for Thatcher Man too,” she said pragmatically,(Thatcher Man – good looking bloke thatching Anna’s roof,) “I ran out of instant the other day and had to give him my best Colombian filter coffee – now he wont drink anything else!”Anna sobbed again.
“Bloody cheek! He can have our recycled grounds! So have you had a proper talk with Ben about any of this?” I asked returning to the grisly subject in hand.
“Not really, it scared me to death when he mentioned moving out and into a flat, so I’ve been avoiding the subject.”
“Seems a bit drastic, did you see that coming?” Poor Anna, this was really sh*tty news.
“No I didn’t, I stupidly thought  we’d just keep going on as we were I suppose….” Anna wiped her face, composed herself, and picked herself up out of the chair to open the kitchen window.
“Coffee’s ready,” she hollered out of the window. “He can come and get his own bloody drink,” she harrumphed.
Moments later, Thatcher Man came thundering in wearing steel capped workmen’s boots. Binky the dog sidled up to him for attention, she didn’t even do a shouty bark! What a flirt!
“Hmm, smells good,” he said in a deep voice, filling the room with his exceptional good looks and muscly thighs. He looked about, bemused – taking in the chaotic cupcake carnage everywhere.
“Help yourself, there’s 48 rejects over there!” Anna nodded at the pile of dejected cupcakes heaped up in the corner.
“So, how’s it going on the roof?” I asked thinking I’d be sociable, ok so I wasn’t going to win any awards for fascinating conversation starters. Thatcher Man, flicked his eyes over me like a bloke who is well aware of his own attractiveness, then he sat down at the kitchen table with his coffee and chosen reject cupcake. Don’t sit down! Can’t you see we don’t want you settling in here and distracting us with your masculine-ness. We’ve got marital troubles to discuss and a wedding cake to make!
Thatcher Man obviously couldn’t read my mind (how crap of him!) because he answered, “the job’s going well, weather looks like holding which means the new reeds will start going up tomorrow.” Then, he went on to tell me all about the thatching process, where he gets his thatching reeds from and how long he’d been a thatcher etc etc ad nauseum. I enjoyed the view but – yawn yawn the subject matter was pretty dry!
“Cor, he bangs on a bit!” I said after he had gone back outside to work.
“You didn’t seem to mind!” Anna gave me a knowing look. Her face was blotchy from crying but she seemed calmer.
“Is he married?” I was curious.
“No, well I say no, he was married until recently but he got divorced three months ago because his wife cheated on him,”
“Jeeperz, who did she cheat with – Henry Cavill? You can’t get a much finer physical specimen than Thatcher Man surely!”
Anna eyed me suspiciously “Perhaps he’s total crap in bed, you don’t fancy him – do you?”
“Actually no, but I am interested in him, I think he’d make a good character to write about.…or at least someone like him……”
Anyway, for goodness sakes, we had to put Thatcher Man and Anna’s marriage troubles aside because we had so much to do! Three hours later we finally sat down at the kitchen table with cheese and tomato toasties and a cheeky glass of red wine. In the time leading up to that – we had finished icing 132 cupcakes, decorated them with 264 handmade chocolate hearts and boxed them up with labels. Then I cleaned up the kitchen as best I could, while Anna made the top cake – which turned out beautifully and was decorated with dramatic drips of dark chocolate. The names of the bride and groom were written in the same chocolate and balanced like a sculpture on the top. Luckily when the bride arrived she thought the cake was equally beautiful and whisked all the boxes away to her car. The once frenetic kitchen was left bare again apart from the warmth and delicious baking aroma.
“Owww, bollox,” squealed Anna, “why are the bloody tomatoes always so hot in a toastie?” she wailed, and then she burst into tears again and I knew it had absolutely nothing to do with the scalding hot tomatoes….…
“Relate,” I said quietly, “I really think you need to try and get Ben to go with you and see someone.”
Anna responded by nodding numbly and after that we tucked into some reject cupcakes – smothered in the left over icing! Who says emotional eating doesn’t have it’s place. Poor Anna, I was gutted for her and resolved to be there for her as best I could. Weirdly, being in her kitchen surrounded by cakes and trauma and good looking Thatcher Man had sparked some ideas off, I had a storyline taking shape in my cake addled brain. I needed to get home and start typing….
Anna and I went to collect the children from school together. The fresh springy air hit us with force after the heat of Anna’s kitchen and by then we were carb slumping – badly! Clare from the PFA saw us coming and strutted over in her clicky clacky heels.
“Ladies! lovely ladies!” she smarmed, “can I rely on you to man – or should I say woman (ha ha ha) the Cakes and Refreshments stall after the Easter Egg Hunt, it’s on Saturday the 26th -11:30 suit?”
We were too tired to protest and nodded compliantly like a couple of androids. Clare tottered off happily ticking something off on her clipboard.

So today’s motivationally inspirational saying for life is – actually I don’t really do those but: – If you have a toasted sandwich today- let it cool down a bit before biting into it – spesh if you’ve chucked in some tomato!
More next week.
As you were.
PS Nancy the horse left a big dung pile further up the road by the School yesterday, apparently Mr Brygraves the Headmaster wasn’t very impressed when some of it got trodden through the school……..shame. All explained in 2.Village Survival, when life gives you horse manure – plant roses!

Note to myself: The one where I help Anna with a wedding cake and marital troubles and I talk to Thatcher Man!

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