There’s a very bizarre competitive edge in my company. Not over something irrelevant like performing well at the job. Oh no. The killer instinct among my colleagues is limited to those folk who are married. And it relates to their baking prowess.
I work with a herd of feeders (or should that be a whisk of feeders?)
Every day at about 9.30am an email gets sent out to the company wide email, announcing ‘I was baking last night and I made some spares. Pop along to the kitchen to sample my buns. They are ROCKY ROAD!!!’ (exclamation marks added for effect).
I sidle by the canteen area – purely out of curiosity of course – to see the baker standing among her (it is usually her – although not exclusively) admirers, surrounded by a veritable bakery full of muffins, graciously accepting compliments about her culinary skill. There is an air of quiet pride, a gentle preening. I usually wait for half an hour before returning to see if there is any left. If there is I will snaffle a piece and return to my desk.
Later that same day another email will go round stating something like ‘Apple Pie in Short Supply. Pop round to my desk to sample a new recipe. Supply limited. Come quickly.’~
The workmates are gathered round, murmuring appreciatively.
Later in the afternoon a big box of Quality Street will be left on a shelf in the photocopying room with a note and a smiley face,. saying ‘Try me. You deserve it.’
The next day the pattern continues with someone else bringing in a flan, or a rhubarb crumble They will seem determined not to be upstaged by that tart (person that is, not pastry) who thinks it’s appropriate to bring confectionary to work on a Monday.
As the week progresses, it’s like a guerrilla warfare. You’d need to be careful entering certain departments if you want to avoid being pressured to tuck in to some sugar-laden delicacy.
As I’m a diabetic (type 1) this is not an ideal environment for me. I do like my baked goods, but I ought to avoid them. My will is strong, but the constant, slightly hysterical bombardment by sweet treats sometimes wears me down. And I find myself brushing the chocolate from my lips in a manner as sultry as in the Cadburys Flake ad.
Only the crumbliest, flakiest chocolate. Tastes like chocolate ever tasted before.
Whenever the Great British Bake-off is on television the tension during the day ramps up. And there can be an actual bake sale – during the work day. It’s for charity of course. But I’m not fooled. The charity element is just a disguise. It’s to score points against Jenny in Accounts (not her real name) who thinks that her white chocolate muffins are to die for. Penny in HR will show her though. Her muffins are moist, and will reveal Jenny’s to be as dry and withered as her conscience.
I’d say the ratio between female to male bakers is about 75-25.
There are some lazy slatterns who bring in shop bought cake for their birthday – these tend to be the foreign colleagues who operate on that strange continental understanding that if it’s your birthday then it’s your responsibility to bring in cake.
What is not up for discussion however it that each and every person who provides homemade cake is married, a parent, and living in the suburbs.
In my time in this company, based in the heart of the industrial wasteland I have only once brought food to share, into work – a packet of Marks and Spencer doughnuts – carefully prebaked and pre-packaged by someone other than I.
I’m not going to speculate as to why this married status encourages you to start baking, and developing a ruthless competitive edge. I wouldn’t dare claim that parenthood may lead to the death of personal hope – I actually don’t believe that. Although maybe looking after young children, and moving your life from the beating heart of the city to the child friendly nothingness of suburbia may lead to a certain narrowing of horizons.
But are they beaten? No! As long as they have breath in their body, as long as Peggy in Legal is still standing then they will bake the best damned chocolate chip cookies they can.