Picture the scene. It’s an episode of It’s A Knockout (no apologies to those too young to understand) featuring giant inflatables, custard pies and paddling pools with Stuart Hall commentating/guffawing. But instead of Ordinary Members Of The Public or The Royal Family the competitors are toddlers!
This was the flash of genius that crossed my mind at the weekend when our Toddler Who Must Be Obeyed arranged to have her 2nd birthday party. Completed unbeknownst to us. Messages on Twitter and everything. I dunno - the youth of today.
In reality it was a very civilised afternoon of tea, cake and sandpit action. (Top tip from parent whose Toddler is six months ahead of ours: Don’t be tempted to put sand in one half and water in the other half of the sandpit just because that’s what the serving suggestion suggests. You just end up with very wet sand. And it gets everywhere. Sigh.)
I just couldn’t help wondering what fun could be had if TWMBO and her five acquaintances were lined up and made to compete. “First one to the Co-op and back for a bottle of Pimm’s wins!” Should I change my moniker to Sick Dad?
One of the main developments during The Birthday Party was my ability to tell Dad Jokes. You know the kind...
Green Gran dropped her mobile phone in her bowl of vegetable soup, causing reasonable amounts of hilarity. I suggested she take no more calls on it, lest it give her cauliflower ear.
Later I congratulated one of our friends on a new venture which will see her doing things with food. Her first name is Pennie. I suggested she change by deed poll her surname to Pasta. (Are you losing the will to live yet?)
And, zut alors! The cake I referred to. No ordinary birthday cake, oh no. Not some bit of sponge with generic ‘Happy Birthday Insert Name Here’ icing. Oh no. During the cooking stage when our TWMBO was a bun in Wife-features’ oven the missus craved crunchy things including meringue. We’re also big fans of the French cream cake people who appear at the Inverness Farmers’ Market. So we put two and two together and came up with a crispy, creamy cake heaven for toddlers and grown ups.
These guys (and they do appear to be literally a couple of guys) based on the industrial estate on the outskirts of Nairn concoct amazing confectionary. When I phoned to ask what they could do I was told, in a voice akin to Jean Reno, “Anything you want, monsieur!” We placed our meringue-heavy order and I had to collect on the morning of the party.
I suggested to Wife-features I could easily strap the cakes to my bicycle handlebars but this was met with a Paddington Stare so the car was phutted into action. Out on the industrial estate (“This development made possible thanks to EEC Regional Assistance funding” says very worn sign) I presented myself at Cake HQ. “You are Mrs Mackenzie!” was the chef’s hat-wearing patisserie man’s greeting. Er, not really, I ventured. “Pavlova?” came the response. Yes, pavlova but chocolate. Ah! All became clear and thankfully I wasn’t sent away with Mrs Mackenzie’s pavlova.
Then came payment. A calculator had to be found and very exact amounts were calculated. At this point I began to wonder if the tiny shack I was in was some sort of front. At any moment I could expect to hear chopper blades overhead, a siren in the car park and an offer of minimal injury being made through a megaphone if I came out with my hands up, Jacques.
Then again I’ve watched too many Jean Luc-Godard films and those episodes of Twin Peaks involving One Eyed Jacks.
In the end I got home with the meringue-tastic cake which was universally acknowledged as the most magnificent taste sensation ever. Seriously.
Which reminds me of a Dad Joke: A guy walks into a baker’s in Glasgow, points at one of the items on display and says ‘Haw, pal. Is that a doughnut or am ah wrang?’ The baker says, ‘No, you’re right enough. It’s a doughnut.’