There’s nothing like a dystopian vision of the future to spark a conversation. Many science fiction stories comment on the state of the world by showing how it will get out of hand, unless the reader does something to stop it. This was what I had in mind when I tried to answer this question: what would be the two words that would bring Britain to its knees?
My answer was FINAL CAKE, for the prospect of no more cake, no matter how much a flight of fantasy that actually sounds, would tear a bigger hole in humanity than if something ever happened to, say, money, which is just as unthinkable. If “no more cake” is something that could ever happen, it is the sort of event that will hit when it is too late for anyone to do anything about it, having taken its existence for granted for too long.
Cake is entertainment. Cake is talked about as much as it is eaten. People are more likely to watch someone baking a cake on television than do it themselves and, with the level of artistry expected on “The Great British Bake Off” - for “artistry” is a word used more than “skill” here – anyone that bakes a cake will have their worth as an artist, and as a person, judged by that cake. To arrive at any meeting with a cake you made yourself will speak more about you, and invite more questions about your craft, your decisions and your temperament as a result, than having bought one from a shop. Perhaps, the person that bought the shop-made cake could get off more lightly, as everyone scrutinises what those layers of sponge say about how your friend’s mind works.
Cake is business. The growth in self-employment in the last ten years, especially after the financial crisis of 2008, has fuelled a boom in businesses that cater to the sweet tooth, as people look to how their abilities can be made into a service. The point where a hobby becomes a livelihood does makes getting hold of a hand-crafted cake, always that little bit more desirable than a shop-bought one, easier to reach than ever, but if you can’t bake for the love of it anymore, would your cake taste as good?
Cake is time. The points where we choose to break routine have become routine themselves. Elevenses, tea time, the dessert that follows dinner, birthdays, Christmas, any reason to celebrate – we have found a way to work cake into them. The diet industry would not exist without cake. I do not need to explain that any further.
Now I can look someone in the eye and tell them that I wrote an article about cake, I don’t feel that I want a slice for real – at least, not right now, possibly tomorrow. Perhaps, this really is the beginning of the end.