A slice of blue­berry sponge gives rise to un­favourable com­par­isons

Woman's Weekly (UK) - - Contents -

Here is a list of the things I’ve told my­self I must re­mem­ber dur­ing the com­ing weeks:

1 Not to in­ter­fere in any way in my sis­ter Deb­o­rah’s love life.

2 Not to in­ter­fere in any way in the wed­ding ar­range­ments of my young col­leagues Ben and Clare.

3 To lis­ten care­fully to wise old Mr Dear when he re­minds me of the above.

4 Eat less cake.

If you were here last week, you’ll re­mem­ber that we were sum­moned to the pala­tial home of my sis­ter, who wanted to moan about her love life. We ar­rived, and she duly moaned. (More of this in a mo­ment.)

In fact, the wreck­age of Debs’ ro­man­tic dreams was not the main point I took away from our visit. It was a re­mark she made in pass­ing.

‘Rosie,’ she said. ‘Have you put on weight?’

Iron­i­cally, she was pass­ing me a piece of home-made blue­berry sponge as she said this. Now, I should say straight­away that it’s true my sis­ter has the odd fault – but I won’t hear a word against her when it comes to her skill at bak­ing cakes.

You’ll see that her ques­tion posed what philoso­phers would call an eth­i­cal dilemma. On the one hand, we have the ques­tion of whether or not I may have put on a bit of weight. On the other, there’s the prospect of a slice of blue­berry sponge that would make Mary Berry throw down her pinny in a huff.

‘Yes, I think I might have put on a

pound or two,’ I said, stuff­ing my face and splut­ter­ing, ‘Oh, Debs, this sponge is ab­so­lutely heav­enly!’

‘A pound or two? You’re jok­ing, I as­sume?’ said Debs, who went on

to make an un­flat­ter­ing re­mark con­cern­ing a whale which had re­cently been spot­ted in the Thames.

‘No, re­ally. These clothes are just

are bit un­flat­ter­ing, that’s all. It’s well known that lighter clothes make peo­ple look fat­ter.’

‘That top’s blue.’

‘Yes, but light blue.’

‘Se­ri­ously, Rosie, you need to start ex­er­cis­ing and not eat­ing so much.

For a start, you could lay off the cake. You’re at­tack­ing that sponge like a hun­gry hip­popota­mus who’s spent the last three months liv­ing on white­bait.’

‘I don’t re­ally know much about the eat­ing habits of the hip­popota­mus,’ I said, with all the in­dig­nity of some­one whose lit­tle sis­ter has com­pared them,

whether de­lib­er­ately or not, with first a whale and then a hippo. ‘But I’m will­ing to bet they don’t eat white­bait.’

By this time, Mr Dear had ap­peared in the kitchen, hav­ing re­moved his over­alls, over which he’d ac­ci­den­tally tipped some of that stuff that ‘does ex­actly what it says on the tin’ (although the tin very clearly doesn’t men­tion the stain­ing of cloth­ing). And so Debs was able to re­sume moan­ing about her love life to a slightly more sym­pa­thetic ear.

Mr Dear, as is his way when it comes to his sis­ter-in-law, laid it on with a trowel. ‘There’s no rea­son why

some­body like you shouldn’t find a nice chap,’ he be­gan. ‘There should rightly be a queue.’

Debs gig­gled and blushed, as well she might.

‘Look at it from their point of view,’ he said. ‘You’re com­fort­ably off. You’ve still got your looks. You’re young at heart. You’re good com­pany. You’re a smash­ing cook. What more could a man want?’

‘That’s the prob­lem,’ said Debs. ‘What do men want? I don’t know any more. The young ones want a bit of

a fling with an older woman, just for the fun of it. The older ones are look­ing for a nurse­maid and house­keeper. Haven’t you got any nice friends, Tom?’

‘I’ll have a think,’ said Mr D, ‘but you should try in­ter­net dat­ing. It’s what all the young­sters do.’

‘I’m not sure I qual­ify as a young­ster.’ ‘Non­sense!’ said Mr D.

Debs gig­gled and blushed again.

‘Oh, all right. I’ll give it a go. It can’t pro­duce men who are worse than the ones I’ve seen over the past six months.’

‘I al­ways thought you could do bet­ter than Gra­ham,’ said Mr D.

‘You are sweet,’ said Debs. ‘And, talk­ing of sweet, do you want an­other slice of blue­berry sponge, Rosie?’

There was a pause so long that a se­lec­tion of mon­keys tap­ping ran­domly at type­writ­ers could have writ­ten three more vol­umes of War and Peace and

The Com­plete Works of Shake­speare,

as well as all 20 vol­umes of the Ox­ford

English Dic­tionary (Very Long Edi­tion). ‘No,’ I said even­tu­ally. ‘I’m not sure I do. I think I’m a bit full.’

‘Cow­ard,’ said Debs.

‘You’re at­tack­ing that sponge like a hun­gry hip­popota­mus’

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