CakeA shamless Scaryduck reprint
I never wanted to do home economics. The trouble was, the metalwork class was far too small and it was bursting at the seams with kids wanting to make ashtrays for their bedrooms and getting wrapped around the lathes. On the other hand, the home economics was virtually empty, with Miss Orton teaching to a small knot of girls made to do the cookery class by their parents.
We were given a choice. Hot sweaty metalwork with the sadistic Mr Callaghan, or the easy life cooking cakes with Miss Orton. Mr Callaghan was the king of the cruel and unusual punishment, normally involving particularly inventive ways of inflicting pain on his hapless pupils. We put this down to the fact that he had lost a foot in a bizarre and unspecified classroom accident, and as such, it was his life’s mission to wreak his awful revenge on the poor kids that came through his workshop. He was known as The Penguin. On the other hand, Miss Orton was a lesbian, something she told us every five minutes, but as far as we knew, the girls she taught weren’t. It was no contest, me and Tim, who really wanted to be a museum curator, and this is as close as the curriculum got, signed up in a flash.
Tuesday mornings became ace. We came in and cooked stuff. Cake. Pie. And once, a whole three course meal, which we then ate, bursting at the seams. Pretty soon, the message got about that Scary and Tim were having a great time stuffing their faces while Mr Callaghan was crushing their bollocks in a vice, and within weeks there were further defections from the metalwork class.
One day, the fragrant Miss Orton came to us with an idea. Mr Bull, the school headteacher was about to celebrate his 60th birthday. Wouldn’t it be nice if we were to make him a cake? Too bloody right it would, that man made our lives hell with petty rules, meaningless punishments and a habit of lecturing us all to sleep in morning assemblies. At the time, there was a strict one-way system operating in the school corridors, punishable by instant death. This was one of Bull’s big ideas to, and I quote “prepare us for our entry into a structured and ordered society”. You had to walk halfway round the school just to get to the class next door, and transgressors were taken away to the “special” classroom, never to be seen again. That was what he was capable of. He was a Justice of the Peace and dreamed of the day he got is stupid long wig and the chance to hang ‘em high in the High Court. He had to pay. We would make the cake. Oh yes.
It was a beautiful cake. We spent a wonderful Tuesday morning all doing our bit to give Bull the happiest of birthdays. Sugar. Magarine. Flour. Eggs. Vim. Icing Sugar. Some mouldy cheese somebody found at the bottom of the fridge. It all went in, and more. Despite our giggling protests that he was taking it too far, Seany dropped a huge green, pulsating loogie right into the mix. Seany had been on the end of Bull’s wrath far too often, and today it was payback. We did, however, physically restrain him from putting his finger up his arse and rubbing the result into the mixture so that “he really would be full of shit”. We didn’t want to poison the old goat. Not much, anyway.
The coup de grace was “Happy 60th Birthday Mr Bull” piped out expertly in green icing by Tim, a skill he is undoubtedly putting to use now in his chosen career as a museum curator. We didn’t have any green food colouring. So we used washing up liquid.
At the end of the lesson, as we all packed up for lunch, the secret door to the forbidden zone opened, and in walked our leader, Mr Bull for a royal visit. Miss Orton grovelled and fawned round him, and it was all we could do to stop her from spreading rose petals on the very ground he walked upon. Eventually, she lead him over to where we stood with The Cake.
There was a brief, sycophantic ceremony. He complimented us on our cooking skills, expressed his deep joy that his students had thought of him on his most special of days. We sung “Happy Birthday”, and he blew out the one oversized candle planted in the middle of our masterpiece. It was all we could find, and after That Thing When We Made A Bomb In Science Club, that was probably not all bad. We hoped, then, it would be all over, but then we heard the words we dreaded.
“Won’t you boys join me in a slice?”
Not on your bloody life, mate, we know what’s in it.
He took a knife, and cut himself the biggest piece you could imagine, the great guts. He wasn’t known as “King Kong” for nothing. He tucked in. We held our collective breath, waiting for the eruption. It never came. He demolished the slice in about two mouthfuls, swallowed, and said, “This is actually rather good. You won’t mind if I take the rest home for Mrs Bull?”
Of course we didn’t mind. As a matter of fact, we were all for making him another one, just to finish off the job good and proper. Fair play to him, he showed up for work the next day showing no ill effects. Hardly surprising, the amount of washing up liquid we used to get the icing the right shade of green probably left him with the cleanest insides in the known universe.
A victory for the kids, for the first time ever. And like that episode of South Park where Kenny didn’t die, I felt strangely dissatisfied. This just wasn’t right, and I’m still waiting to be collared for this one now, over twenty years later. You'll be pleased to hear that Mr Bull is still alive and meting out bizarre punishments from the comfort of his centrally-heated bench in the High Courts. I’m still out here, running free and as guilty as hell. The cycle of crime and punishment is yet to be fulfilled.