I don't recall ever actually hearing the words, "If you're going to do something, you might as well do it well" growing up, but this was definitely a philosophy that my parents lived their lives by. Nothing was ever done by halves in our home. The accidental discovery of parquet wood floors underneath the wall to wall carpet turned into a three day marathon of DIY, which involved a hired industrial floor sander. My mum deciding to cook some jam or chutney, did not mean going to the supermarket to buy a few bags of fruits, but rather going to the wholesale market and buying entire crates of fruits. Making samosas and meat pies for the church fete turned our kitchen into a production line, each family member assigned with a task, all working towards the mass production of little food parcels. There are many more such memories from my childhood, and for a long time I thought that they will be just that, long ago memories. That is until I realised that I have my parents' genes, and that I too cannot do things by halves...
Today is Red Nose Day here in the UK, a day of laughter and general silliness, all to raise as much money as possible for charity. Every year top celebrities do their part to help with the fund raising, all with hilarious results, and the rest of the nation is asked to join in. Children all over the UK went to school dressed in home-made cartoon costumes this morning, office workers braved the tube in red afro wigs and red noses, shop owners hopped all the way down our highstreet on red space-hoppers, all in the name of Comic Relief. Not wanting to be left out of the fun and with only the best of intentions, I sent an email to my old office offering to bake cupcakes for them all to raise funds for this great cause.
Hoping to get about 30 orders or so, I was completely knocked off my feet when I received orders for 66 cupcakes!!! Now, this might not seem like a huge number of cupcakes to bake, but please bare in mind that I live in a small rented London flat with a tiny little gas oven and a space saving food processor. I had a moment of panic when I started going through the numbers and worked out how many hours I will need to get all of this done. Just as I was about to run screaming for the hills, I remembered all those days spent with my family in our kitchen running our own little production lines, and immediately I felt better knowing that I can do this!
I started unpacking the eggs, butter, flour, sugar and vanilla and turned on my little oven. As I made batch after batch of fluffy, golden, sweet-smelling little cakes I got into some sort of a zen-like state and could not believe it when I realised that more than three hours had already passed when I took out the final pan-full from the oven. Still running high on energy I started creaming the butter and icing sugar and got out my red food colouring paste, now came my favourite part. Piping the brightly coloured icing onto the cupcakes took up another couple of hours, but I was not going to stop here. Grabbing the tubs of glace cherries and a bag of mini marshmallows from my store cupboard, I started getting creative, these were after all me doing something funny for money. As I decorated the very last cupcake and saw all of the little faces looking back at me, I was overcome by a happy exhaustion and a great feeling of accomplishment.
This morning, with every plastic container I own packed full of cupcakes, loaded into carrier bags, I got onto a bus and headed for the central London office. My smile got bigger and bigger as more and more bus passengers came up to me to compliment me on the lovely little cakes. By the time I had delivered the cakes to the office, and I could hear the "oohs" and "aahs" spreading around the room, I could hardly stop the smile from going all the way around my head. But as I sit here now, with it all over and done, I have an even bigger smile on my face as I transfer the money I raised over to the charity's account. Happy Red Nose Day everybody!!!!