If I knew you were coming, I would have baked a cake

If you’re a certain age then you’ll have a song ringing in your ears. I’m too young to know the original but I think its a left over memory from when my parents were young. Another left over memory is a story I have recounted several times in 2020. How my parents came to have their wedding cake. My chapter begins when as a 17 year old Postal Cadet, I was out on delivery in the quaint village of Pwll. I approached the well maintained town house of an elderly spinster, Miss Evans, who came to the door and greeted me one morning. She quizzed me, “Are you related to Ethel Harries of Felinfoel?” I replied, ‘Yes she’s is my mother, however, she’s Ethel Fisher now.” Miss Evans smiled & said “Please tell your mother Miss Evans wishes to be remembered to her.”

At the end of my shift, after returning home, I passed onto ‘mam’ the message and her face began to beam. She told me of how Miss Evans had been a teacher when she was in high school. How they connected and how her best subject was Miss Evans’s – cookery. She went on to say with a pride and admiration in her voice, how Miss Evans, some 6 years after leaving school, had walked the distance from Pwll to Felinfoel, upon her recieving the news that ‘mam’ & ‘dad’ had announced their engagement. She knocked on my grandparents door declaring they needed not  worry for she would provide the wedding cake. I was touched by this story. How the mutual admiration between teacher and pupil had surpassed the classroom, and had continued into adulthood. Additionally, I had no idea at the time, how austere 1954 was, so there was an added measure of generosity.

In 2020, the concept of community returned us all to a far forgotten time, when people did come together, sharing what they had and what skills they possessed. Although, as the lockdown continued old urges became more apparent, selfless giving way to selfish, and of course, a minority making the headlines, casting a blight on all the good deeds that had been done. The truth is, good deeds will always outweigh bad.

Armed with my mother’s story, I set about making our own wedding cake. Despite the sparseness  of our reception due to the COVID19 regulations, we enjoyed “the time of our lives”.

On the first full day of the 2nd Welsh lockdown, my daughter celebrated her 25th birthday. Recently achieving her ambition and dream of working in the NHS, she’s has just began her degree in Nursing. Being a single mum to boot, she certainly is single minded. So again I took to the kitchen and baked a red velvet sponge in the shape of a heart. Vanilla frosting finished with a whole myriad of candy body parts – eyeballs, teeth, brains, and of course ‘Smarties’ for tablets.

She said “Thank you, I love the fact that someone thought enough of me to make me a cake – its wonderful!”

A friend and local businessman who has been invaluable to us during lockdown and had a hand in our wedding plans refused my customary gratuity of a bottle of “Pescador” (Fisher Spanish wine). Saying “bake me a lemon drizzle!”. I like people who say what they enjoy and are willing to accept gifts made with my own two hands.

Homemade is never the cheaper alternative to shop bought. Sure machine made may look more ‘professional’ however there is something in homemade that no machine will ever know – love. Whether the cookery teacher walking a 9 mile round trip to make the offer let alone the shopping for ingredients whilst there was still rationing; or, being able to help out because of empty shelves due to the selfishness of some, panic buying, or being furloughed, finding yourself in need of basic foodstuffs and reliant upon Foodbanks; or the joy when you realize that someone loves you enough to make something special, just for you.

Saying “I love you”; “I care”; “I’m here for you” – they are all too easy, rolling off the tongue. True sentiments are tested in times of need when its time to ‘stop saying’ and ‘start doing’. Helping each other – it’s a piece of cake!

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