Cake Bribe

By Daniel Brady

A note from the Author:

When I lived in Weir Court, high-rise flats close to Edinburgh College (Stevenson, in my day), we had suspicious Council Landlords, who put CCTV into the lifts to monitor their tenants. Unfortunately, the buffoons covered the air vents with their big bro toys. Whenever you entered the lifts you were faced with a Hendrix-like hash/fag haze! I knew that there was no way to get them to fix this if I complained in the usual manner, so I tried a different tactic. In a sense, I used a cake recipe as a bribe. The vents were repaired within a week or two!        



Dear Sir/Madam,

I have a problem, maybe you could help?

My granny, Mrs Lobelia Doobie, has fallen out with me! Why? Let me tell you.

As you will have noticed from my address, you will see I stay in Weir Court, this, if you were not aware, is a High Rise type of accommodation. I stay on the fourteenth floor, sixteen being the tops (sadly, I do not speak metaphorically there.)

I am a trainee chef at Stevenson College, specialising in Continental Puff Pastry/Cakes/Plain and Fancy H.N.D 11. My granny, Mrs Doobie, reached her 100th birthday on August 9th. She received her telegram and card from the Queen (Elizabeth II) and was looking forward to a "right, real, good old fashioned knees-up" – her very own words.

I had promised to make my granny her favourite cake, Cherry and Nut Tea Cake, using a traditional melted fat method. (I could send you the recipe if you'd like to try it? It's delicious and very easy to make.)

A huge party had been arranged for gran’s special day, and she told me she was really looking forward to getting "wired into the cake" – again, her very own words.

I spent the weekend preparing her cake, I too was looking forward to her party. After college, on the Monday afternoon, I found myself standing waiting for the lift to slip gently to the ground. I was tired but I had learnt how to make a good Roulade Dessert Gateaux for under five pounds, so I was quite happy with myself.

I watched as the orange, even numbers slowly lit up: 14, then 12, then 10, then 8, then 6, then 4, then 2, then STOP!

Then 4, then 6, then 8, then 10, then 12, then 14!

I sighed long and hard as chefs sometimes do.

14 became 12, then 10, then 8, then 6, then 4, then 2, then – relief!

Why not take the odd numbered lift, I hear you ask?

It was Knackered.

The lift doors opened and I had to step back, I could not see into the lift for it seemed to be filled with a Misty Haar. After a few seconds a brace of youths emerged from the smoke, both sporting the traditional Sighthill Baseball cap. I tried my best to waft away the strange smelling smoke with my August edition of "Fun With Buns" but to no great avail.

I peered through the exotic aroma that lurked within the lift and pressed 14. By the time the lift had reached the second floor I found myself giggling. By the third and fourth I had started to laugh out loud. When the lift had reached the eighth floor, I was convinced my feet were talking to me, they were saying, “YOU ARE STANDING ON MY TOES, PLEASE MOVE!" At the tenth I realised it was not my feet talking but one of my neighbours who is rather small. I could not see him at first but by the time we had reached the eighth floor the smoke had calmed down a little. I apologised to Mr Turnbull and suddenly felt an incredible urge to eat the five pound bag of potatoes he carried under his arm.

He got out of the lift rather angrily and just as the doors were about to close, a voice behind me said, "Hold the doors." A man and a woman also got out (with their bicycles.)

As soon as I got into my flat, granny’s cake was HISTORY. Along with twelve Mr Kipling’s mini apple tarts, four Kit-Kats and a box of crunchy nut corn flakes. Needless to say, my granny was not amused when I turned up with a Co-Op Strawberry Swiss Roll rather than her afore mentioned favourite cake.

So, do you think that you could maybe help me never fall out with my gran again? All I ask is that you fit some kind of filter system or vent that would divert any possible nasty smoke from within the lift. Perhaps it could be filtered through to the Calder Surveillance Office? I was up there once to collect an entry key for my flat and saw a few people who looked as though they enjoyed that sort of inhalation?

Can you save my possible, future inheritance? She has a lovely Clarice Cliff tea-pot that I've had my eye on for a while now.

I've also put on two stones and I am worried about this, the stairs were once a few simple leaps and skips, but now? Everest with Arthur’s seat on top.

I feel that with the imminent arrival of a smoking ban in public places on the horizon, that a fan or vent within the lifts would be sensible and an essential necessity.

I look forward to hearing from you. The recipe offer still stands.

Daniel Brady Fernie