The other night I received a text message from my friend Sharon.

“Hi Janice, was just watching Mary Berry on the telly and it reminded me of our wee day out last year at the Bakery School. What a day!! xx.”

I immediately grinned as I recalled a Saturday afternoon when Sharon, her husband Derek and my friend Paul and I attempted to learn how to bake. You see, Sharon’s mum had given her Christmas vouchers and she thought it would be fun if we bought some too and joined them. The big day arrived and we headed on the train laden with our baking provisions and unbeknown to me, a sneaky stash of whisky hidden by Paul.

“I reckon me and Derek might needs a wee snifter or two to see us through the afternoon.”

Was his excuse.

“In fact, why don’t we nip in to the pub for a quickie before we start as we have half an hour to kill?”

Derek didn’t argue and was hot on Paul’s heals because an afternoon in a Bakery School was the last place on earth he wanted to be.

“I should be heading to the footie with the boys.”

He moaned.

“Not baking bloody bread.”

“Welcome, welcome.” Our tutor greeted us.

“My name is Lewis and I’ll be guiding you through the next two hours of baking facts and fun.”

“Lewis, Lewis.”

“Bloody Lanky Lewis.”

Derek seemed even more hacked off it was a guy who was teaching us, so out came the whisky for a fly swig or two.

“Our State of the Art kitchen will make you feel right at home.”

Lanky Lewis enthused.

“Right at home?”

Derek was off on a rant again as he scanned the modern appliances.

“When I was a boy I was washed in the kitchen sink with a pulley full of wet clothes on the ceiling cause it was the only warm room in the house.

“Bread has had an important part to play in our lives culturally, politically, and socially.”

He added.

“And in certain religions, bread plays a significant part.”

“Never thought of bread in that way.” In confessed.

Paul, who saw himself as a young handsome Paul Hollywood piped up.

“Shhhhhh…..” he scolded.

“This is right up my street.”

Derek took another nip of whisky as Lanky Lewis added.

“I considered baking one of the many delicious Italian breads like Panettone.”

Lanky Lewis suddenly developed a fake Italian accent.

“Brioche, Cantuccini, Ciabatta, Ciambella, Pane Siciliano……

He drawled.


“But then I considered baking a Cornetto.”

Hic. Hic. The effects of the whisky were beginning to take their toll as Derek added.

“Isn’t that an ice cream cone?”

Hic, hic.

Sharon’s attempted to make sure her husband was aware that she was fuming with him for getting drunk on their special day was futile as Lanky Lewis continued with his indepth knowledge of all things bread.

“An Italian Cornetto is similar to a French croissant.” He explained to Derek.

“Listen mate.” Derek was way out of his comfort zone. Hic, hic.

“When I was a boy we had the choice of a pan loaf.”

Hic, hic.

“Or….. A slice of Mother’s Pride.”

Sharon was mortified as her drunken husband added.

“There was none of this healthy brown, seeded, wholemeal or Cheeeee….abaaaaata.”

The rest of the classroom continued weighing their ingredients as Derek ranted.

“And none of yer….”

Hic, hic.

“Em…… whit ever that last one wis that sounded like a cone.”

Trying his best to ignore him Lanky Lewis instructed.

“Continue kneading your dough and always remember that wetter is better.”

“Wetter is better.” He parroted.

“And your dough is pre-fermented.”

He saw the puzzled look on our faces and added.

“This is to accelerate fermentation as we don’t have enough time in this lesson to leave your dough to ferment property.”

Hic, hic.

“Ferment your loaf?”

Derek was bamboozled as Paul whispered to me.

“I think poor Derek’s fermentation has also been accelerated by the looks of him.”

And sure enough, Derek was slumped over his workstation until his good lady grabbed him by the scruff of the neck.

“Derek, straighten up and stop showing me up.”

Hic, hic.

“Sorry hen, it just seems a lot of hard work for a bit of bread.”

“Hard work?” Sharon had now lost the plot. Hard work? All you’ve done since we got here is drink bloody whisky.”


Derek thought he was being funny.

“No need for that.”

Bakery School vouchers again this year? I text Sharon but got no reply.