Man I love baked goods. It’s been a great week for them, too, as not one but TWO of my flatmates (ok one isn’t my flatmate but I was in his flat at the time and we ARE mates so…) got the culinary urge and whipped something up just as I was there to swoop in on the finished product. I feel like the backing cast of the Little Red Hen, only infinitely more grateful. So the similarities really end quite early.

Home-baking conjures up infinite comforting images of gloopy cake mix, guilty mouths covered in chocolate and the sweet smell of contentment wafting from warm ovens.

Turns out school-baking is quite a different experience.

Apparently the young must experience cookery, so we decide to make flapjacks en masse. The children can only be trusted to stir dry ingredients. We’ll stretch to margarine, but eggs seem to be asking for trouble – anything runny and we’ll have a bun fight on our hands.

Bowls and spoons are shared between six, and turns are dutifully taken to have a go at giving the contents a good bosh with a wooden spoon.

I am so involved in my role of sultana distributer, marching around bestowing raisins like a militant Bacchus figure, that it is a while before I look up and realise that four of my children are standing by the wall in disgrace. Thank heavens, is my instinctive response: that means six sevenths of the class are behaving themselves.

I gingerly approach one of them to ask her crime. Ramming a banana repeatedly down on the table. A just punishment for a wicked deed. In the background a loyal friend looks on, weeping morosely at the loss of a baking ally. I attempt to comfort her, but the longer I spend in this position the more I distrust my ability to relate to children. A pat on the back will have to do.

I return to my post, sending a few more unsuspecting victims to the wall to give the impression that I too am a master of discipline. Spirits and oaty mix alike are well and truly stirred.

The finished result is somewhat cardboard-y, but packed off home nonetheless. With time I am sure these little chicks will blossom into Red Hens – meanwhile I can only recommend choosing one’s flatmates wisely.


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