Mother thinks Boris Johnson is right about cake. She supports having it and eating it like he does. She also tells me no British politician is stupid enough to let the trade negotiations damage the cake supply chain.
‘Cake shortages caused the French revolution. They won’t repeat that mistake. Anyway, Britain survived the War without panettone and we will do so again.’
I wonder when my Remain voting Mother morphed into a Johnson supporting cross between Mary Antionette and Geoffrey Boycott? I can forgive her questionable analysis of the causes of the French revolution but not knowing that panettone is a breaded loaf not a cake is unforgivable.
I am about to confront her with this when I remember I came round only to check she’s OK and not to waste time debating the impact of the Brexit trade negotiations on the global cake supply chain.
I offer to make her a cup of tea, instead. Her fridge is almost empty. A pint of milk sits next to a lemon drizzle cake, a Bakewell tart and four jam donuts. There’s a tin of tomato soup on the top shelf. Unless she is auditioning for an extreme episode of ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ it’s clear her obsession for cake and other sweet things is more than just political.
I decide it’s time for me to talk to her about getting some balance into her diet.
‘I worried you’re not eating enough,’ I say. ‘When did you start this cake thing?’
‘When did you start being a nosey parker?’ she replies.
Undaunted, I suggest she needs to include whole grains, proteins and more fat in her diet. I say that cakes are not bad per se but should eaten in moderation.
‘We need to make your diet less Willy Wonka and more Yotam Ottolenghi.’
Mother falls silent during my sermon. In fact, she has turned off her hearing aid and jacked up the volume on the TV. It’s so loud the dead could be walking all over West London.
‘You’re becoming a cake addict,’ I shout, irritated at being stonewalled. ‘Don’t you realise the sugar in all those cakes is like having crack cocaine.’
‘If crack cocaine is as good as lemon drizzle cake could I try some?’ she replies.
Fretting over dinner, I explain to the family why they should also feel aggrieved by Mother’s reaction.
‘It was all for her own good,’ I end.
There is an embarrassed silence. They’re like ambassadors at a diplomatic reception where Donald Trump has misread the autocue. They don’t know what to say or which way to look.
After a while, my Son speaks.
‘Supermarket cakes come in lots of packaging. If she cuts back on that it has to be a good thing for the environment,’ says Son, showing he values the Gaia in Granny.
There’s another short pause.
‘This an example of the conflict between the individual’s right to eat what they want and the State’s desire to prevent harmful behaviours. You’re Mr Nanny State. Given that Granny doesn’t like being told what to do, I don’t understand why you are surprised at her reaction?’ says my Daughter, in that irritating way undergraduates adopt after their first year at university.
It’s not the support I was hoping for so I turn, hopefully, to my Wife who is clearing up the plates.
‘Your daughter’s right. The moral of this story is don’t teach your Grandmother to suck eggs’,’ she says. ‘Now, who’d like some pudding?’