It’s a given that the person who says, “the one thing I don’t understand is…” is the sort of person for whom empty space is in no great shortage when it comes to the brain department. Like some dusty old attic with not much in it save rolls of mice-chewed lagging and the occasional shaft of sunlight shining through a crack in the roof tiles there’s a great deal of nothingness that could be filled up with knowledge; the one thing this person thinks they don’t understand is usually some quite dull point they want to make and is actually at the top of very much longer list of things they’d genuinely not have the foggiest about.
Either that, or it’s just an irritating turn of phrase used by the sort of person who thinks prefacing an insult with “with the greatest respect” is a subtle and clever way to deflect from the very rude thing they’re about to say. The only time this linguistic formula is acceptable is as follows: “With the greatest respect, you’re a cunt.” Thus the line has been nabbed from the pub bore and handed over to a graceful fellow who speaks his mind but likes to instil in his sentences an appropriate dose of acid.
Anyway, the one thing I don’t understand is why anyone likes cupcakes. They’re bloody horrible. At this point, may I say to anyone I know who has made such things that yours were the exception but as a rule they’re really awful. Some research was done this week which told us what the rest of us already knew: the cupcake is king. Sales are soaring and those of larger cakes to be shared are dropping off. It seems, the average sweet-toothed Briton appreciates the simplest of recipes: one cake to one mouth, and the thought of having to go to the back-breaking effort of taking a slice, let alone offering somebody else a piece, and then putting it on a plate is proving too much.
But why? Sponge with the density of a cannonball is topped with enough icing to cover the small tier of an old-fashioned wedding cake and the quantity of sugar is at a pitch to make your fillings wish they were rhumba-ing with a scrap of tinfoil instead. My Mum was never much of a cake maker but at least the fairy cakes she turned out didn’t require twenty minutes to wade through, and although her rock cakes were so dry you’d have to apply Vaseline to the inside of your mouth afterwards to stop it cracking we could all be grateful that they didn’t come with enough icing to bring on a migraine.
Maybe not quite in the same league as having the world’s spooks drooling over how long your phone call to your local Al-Qaeda representative lasted or that living standards in this country will be back to those of the Edwardian age before too long, nevertheless, I’d argue that the cupcake is one of the worst things about life in Britain today. Easily up there with Hipsters in bow ties and skinny jeans and Radio 4 afternoon plays which are either about teenage pregnancy or northerners finding love late in life. If Philip Larkin was still about no doubt he’d employ the image of a solitary cupcake sitting on a chipped plate as a metaphor for the rise of single-occupancy homes; and had David Cameron really ever actually meant anything by the Big Society the most useful thing he could have done would have been to outlaw them and make us a share a nice Victoria sponge with someone instead.