There have been moments when I’ve scanned social media, to discover that one of my Martha-Stewart- type-acquaintances has smugly photographed her perfect muffins, fairy cakes, or apple pie. I have noted the smiling child by her side and sunk into a gloomy despondency. My ten-year-old girl loves baking cakes, but baking is not one of my talents. Maybe it would be if I spent more time on it. Instead of revising muffin recipes, I write at my desk, looking out at my London street, and every twenty minutes or so, become distracted, and do useless things like cut the cat’s hair where it has clogged up into tight balls around it’s bum. Or log onto facebook and cry over the photographs of beaten dogs, or captured dolphins.
We do try baking. We follow the exact ingredients for a recipe, weighing out the butter and flour, but there NEVER seems to be enough mixture to make 12 perfect cupcakes. The last time we tried there was just enough for nine and our sugar icing was thin and sweet; we must learn how to do the butter version. Is that even what it’s called? Or I should just double the ingredients that the recipe calls for. Something has to change.
I was one of three mothers who recently sold cakes at the Year 6 school cake sale. Our blue-iced cakes seemed at best small, compared to the one’s the French mother had made that rose like small mountains with generous dollops of buttercream. One man scoffed at our blue offerings: “50 pence for those”
“The money is for the school,” I replied tersely.
Craft is another thing. I remember when the children were small and all they wanted to do was make huge glittery messes with dollops of glue. I would hover over them as the table became amassed with sticky patches and glitter and would try to mask my rising sense of irritation and boredom. I am not like my sister who can make origami birds out of bits of paper or my friend Emily, who can pick up a stick and paint a tiny Union Jack on it, instantaneously creating a work of art.
But I am good at listening, laughing, hugging, massaging and cheering them on. So that’s something I suppose, although my friend Emily can do all that as well as baking and crafting. Don’t get me started on gardening: I am not like my friend Shirel, who says, gardening gives her a sense of spiritual purpose. I am the type who buys a ready-made window box and hopes for the best.