When you dress like a Nazi and the papers find out
Paul was in a grumpy mood. And not his TV grumpy mood; his actual grumpy mood. He should have been watching the rugby, not walking into the 58th annual Horsham Country Fate to judge a baking competition, all because he’d once dressed as a Nazi and the stupid fucking papers had found out.
“We really need this positive PR,” his assistant reminded him as they walked past the tombola, the Bat The Rat and the guess-how-many-sweets-are-in-this-jar game to save the local dentist’s from being turned into a Bill’s. Paul looked at how shit the dog show was – all sausage dogs, the small handbag ones and a big, droopy fella that he instantly recognised as perfect cover for any big backfires that might arise in the day. He knew that his black labs could easily eat half the dogs here. Ha! He really needed that.
“There’s that winning PH smile that we love,” he assistant quietly cheered.
“Don’t do that,” said Paul. “You know I was going to an ‘Allo ‘Allo themed fancy dress party that night, right? When I dressed up as a Nazi.”
“Oh. Yeah. Totally. We just need to get everyone else back on board with ‘brand PH’, don’t we, big man?”
“Right. Well, where’s this baking contest, then?”
A big crowd of 60 had gathered in the main marquee to cheer Paul’s arrival, who dutifully waved and smiled and traced the edge of his little white beard that he knows so many people like. He had his extra blue contacts in and boy were they working – he lost count of how many people he saw actually licking their lips in his direction. Not even the hand-drawn sign that read Horsham’s Very British Bake Up was enough to ruin this moment of true admiration.
He enjoyed himself when he was handed the microphone to announce the Very British Bake Up open, too, achieving a very respectable – if a little condescending – level of laughter for his I’m-sure-you-won’t-knead-my-help joke, and knocking them for six with an improvised line about how the beautiful weather should ensure that there are no soggy bottoms all day long. One clever prick did shout “Good moaning!” from the back of the tent, but was quickly ejected from the entire fate.
No, Paul was having a good time. Until he had to taste and judge the contestants’ bakes. He’d forgotten about this part of the deal, and although he’d previously presumed that some of the cakes and pastries might not be up to his usual standards, he could never have been prepared for just how utterly dog shit they were.
To the first boy (a 9-year-old called Joshua who presented a Victoria sponge) Paul said: “There’s just no flavor there, for me. None at all. It’s under proofed as well. How long did you proof it for?” Joshua look over to his mum by the side who manically smiled and nodded and put both of her thumbs up at them. Clearly she wasn’t listening; just looking at Paul’s tight, cool, boot-cut jeans.
“Be nice,” Paul’s assistant whispered to him at the next child’s table.
He picked up one of her flapjacks – a cake he even hates when it come in a mini bucket from M&S – and bit into it. “Mmmm,” he lied. “So… interesting. Tell me, I can taste the Haribo in there, but what’s that other yummy ingredient?” In his heart of hearts he knew very well that it was hair.
The next boy asked for a handshake, under the instruction of his mother. “Mum said it’d really make her day if she saw you give me a handshake,” he said. “She’s your number one fan. She’s always kissing her calendar of you.”
“Oh, yeah?” smiled Paul. “And which one’s your mum, then?”
“That one,” he said, pointing across the tent.
Paul looked up, made a decision quickly, said, “Nah,” and even managed to get away without trying the boy’s ‘Yule log’ (it was August) that smelt like cream cheese.
This fresh hell went on, with the kids seemingly in a contest of stupidity rather than baking. One child hadn’t allowed their shoe pastry to rest long enough, making it tough and rubbery; another little idiot had taken her tarts out of the oven 5 minutes too early. At least the boy who turned in a bowl of Rice Krispies (just the Krispies, not in the form of Rice Krispies cakes) hadn’t shat on his ingredients. Paul made him the winner to teach the others a lesson. His own had been to not dress as a Nazi/character from ‘Allo ‘Allo ever again.