I have a confession to make (incidentally have you noticed that whenever people say that they inevitably go on to ‘confess’ something utterly trivial and uncontroversial?) Well, here it is – I’ve never really seen the point of… cake. The English are supposed to go mad for cake – we have it with afternoon tea or morning coffee; we bring it out at the end of a meal and celebrations just wouldn’t be the same without it. But I’ve never seen the point of it. Sure, I liked it when I was a child, if only to pull off the icing and try to get away without eating the rest; and as an adolescent I used to devour acres of jam sponge in one sitting. But now I’ve gone right off it; and for the last thirty years cake and I have had nothing to do with one another.
For a start, I rarely eat snacks. This is partly for health reasons (snacking is a good way to gain weight) and partly because I’m just not hungry between meals. Secondly, cakes are full of sugar; commercial ones are far too sweet and I just can’t be arsed to make my own (they come out like pancakes in any case.) But the main reason I don’t eat them is because they don’t seem like food. They deliver an abundance of calories without actually filling you up – so, whilst I may not be averse to the occasional slice of battenburg I rarely tackle anything else, especially not the usual jam-cream-and-icing-laden horrors that I am sometimes offered. I don’t find it satisfying or enjoyable; it’s like eating sugary air. My teeth feel horrible, my stomach feels horrible and no amount of tea can wash away the taste. So no thank you.
This was not the experience of Withnail and Marwood in the famous cake-shop scene where they demanded the finest wines known to humanity in order to wash down their scones and iced buns:
When I was a child we had a cake, freshly made, every Sunday afternoon so that my parents could come down after their rest and have tea and cake – because apparently cooking breakfast, attending two church services, cooking Sunday roast and clearing up afterwards just wasn’t enough work for one day. Mind you the cake was made from a mix in a box so I guess it wasn’t that hard. But now? I’d as soon go out and dig up the entire garden than bake a cake.