Red nose day 2009
Well, you can't have escaped the fact that, in the good ol' UK, we're celebrating Comic Relief for charity - aka, Red Nose Day. Ostensibly a day for sporting silly red noses and watching comedians making special shows to help raise money for children in Africa. Today already, I have seen The Pink Panther paw his fluffy way onto the Victoria Line. I saw a herd of schoolchildren perform a percussion noise pollution type thing outside Oxford Circus Station. Many people were wearing specially-designed Comic Relief t-shirts.
But I am not here to talk about the billions of pounds this will raise for children in Africa. I am not here to celebrate the wonder of a nation coming together in a united and charitable cause. Nor am I here to extol the virtues of laughter and the bond it creates as a social cohesive.
No. I am here to talk of a tale of failure, murder, death, feathers and 3am shrieks in the night. All in the name of Comic Relief.
IT ALL STARTED ON MONDAY, when a friend rang to ask if I could make hot cross buns for his charity sale in aid of Comic Relief.
At this point, I should have, could have, said, 'not this time'.
Stupidly, I have a habit of saying:
"Yes of course!"
And that set me on the path of doom, failure, murder, death (doesn't murder intrinsically involve death?), feathers and 3am shrieks in the night....
Thursday night, after GCU, I went to the big Sainsbury's in Streatham to buy yeast and strong bread flour. It took ages to find the yeast - a motherly older lady came to my rescue - and finally I was home, bags bursting with food and ingredients. And a good Jamie Oliver recipe for 'easy' hot cross buns, buns which are supposed to look like THIS...
Nice Hot Cross Buns
The '15 minutes' that pounding the dough into a proper consistency was more like 45 minutes, during which I got cross and hot. I had to resort to singing hymns to stop myself thinking murderous thoughts.
Then I got fed up of pounding, so I just rolled it in some dry flour and put it back in the bowl.
FOR ONE AND A HALF HOURS.
OH YES. You let it stand for 1.5 hours. (by then it was already 10.30). So by 12 it would be DOUBLE in size and ready for me to make small buns out of it.
Okay, I could cope with that, although I was already knackered beyond thought. I dozed off and set the alarm for midnight.
At midnight I looked into the covered bowl. The dough had NOT doubled in size. It looked exactly the same size. It WAS the same size.
Well I made the balls out of it anyway and glazed them with egg.
I looked at the recipe. "let the buns stand for another 1.5 hours". ANOTHER 1.5 HOURS? That would take me up to... 2am.
I dozed off to sleep again. 1.5 hours later, there were NO risen buns. They were the same size. GRRRR.
I piped the crosses onto the flat buns. The cross dough just rolled off. Oh well. By then I couldn't care less, I just wanted the buns to cook.
But, just as I was getting ready to put them into the oven, the murder happened.
For Monty-The-Cat suddenly jumped in at the window from the still darkness of the 2.30am morning, with a mothering pigeon dead in his mouth. He'd waited up a tree until he saw a nesting pigeon. Then pounced and killed. And brought it in on the side where I was glazing my buns.
I screamed. He dropped the pigeon on the windowsill and ran under the bed, dropping downy grey feathers over the side and floor, a soft, delicate dusting of death. But my scream had scared two women outside who also started to scream. Lights went on around the houses. Lights went on in the police station behind my flats. Monty came out from under the bed and lay on the floor, bloodied paws stretching and wiggling in murderous, tired joy.
I slammed the buns into the oven and gave up even trying to make anything of them. If I had left the dough out or in the fridge it might have been okay. But I had given up. I knew by then, of course, that there was no way I would be taking in those buns, comic relief or no.
I then betook myself to cleaning the flat, putting the pigeon into a bag and clearing up the feathers. I then had to wash the cat, who was covered in evidence. So the poor thing is in the bathtub, being showered down, trying to crawl up the tiles (or me, eliciting more screams). During which time the buns burned. They were NOT buns at all. These buns were dead, deceased, no more. The buns were non-buns.
3:10 am I finally get to bed, with a poor, wet, bedraggled and confused cat.
It's a rare old world!