21 July 2011

Have You Ever


... wished things were easier?

It's a disaster- first my flight is cancelled due to this unforsaken ash cloud that seems to be dithering around Europe and second, I forget my passport which is probably a good thing considering there are no flights to fly out of London.  Is the universe trying to tell me something here?  I want to go to Paris, I will bake to get there, if at all humanly possible. 

So, I head home with my tail between my legs like an idiot- I find my passport on the mantle piece where I left it in my hurry and plonk down on the nearest chair and try to book a seat on the Eurostar, unfortunately, everything is booked up and they're not even putting on extra services, this is not looking good whatsoever.  Paris is not looking good. 

An hour and a half later, Paris is not looking good - I'm gutted to the extent that I won't be enarmouring myself in Paris' culinary reputation. Gutted.  I head towards the shop in my Parisian chic, Louboutins, a plaid skirt and a top to go and my hair was even Brazilian blow dried too.  Keira looks up as I enter the shop and she looks confused, I know how she feels. 

"I thought you were supposed to be on your way to gay Paris?" she says.

"Supposed to is the understatement of the year! That bloody ash cloud has muddled my plans- I'm not going?" I say, feet astride and hands on hips.

"They said you had gone to Paris and now I know they were lying," the voice drifts and I turn around to see Nathan standing behind me.  His white shirt is effortlessly cool, matched with dark denim trousers. He looks me from head to toe, "Parisian chic, I do see though."

"How can I help you?" I say, I really am not in the mood.

"I just wanted to come in and order some special cupcakes for an event we're holding at the bar, for Jack's and I's company, it's for next week Saturday," Nathan says.

I look to Keira, "Please assist this gentleman, I'll be out back with the books."

"Hold on one minute," Nathan stops me mid-step, "We need around two hundred and fifty cupcakes... I brought some pictures we'd like to be showcased on them."

This is definitely not a job that Keira can take on, I usually need a couple of weeks notice to produce that large a batch. I will simply have to tell him no, but before I can, it gets even more exciting... Jack walks into the shop.

"Hi," he manages and I really do wish I were in Paris now.  This is awkward.

"I don't think I can manage to produce that large amount if they're for next week, I do need a couple weeks notice," I look from Jack to Nathan.

"I completely understand that and I apologise for the late request Fred, but we're desperate here.  Why can't you go with it?"

I know it's no excuse but I say, "Time and ingredients."

"Fine, if it's time... I'm sure Jack will help in any means possible now and if it's ingredients then we'll buy up the whole of the baking aisle in Sainsburys, please Fred... I wouldn't beg if I wasn't desperate, which I am. I was going to bargain on getting a discount but I won't even barter with you, please!" Nathan says and then goes down on his knees and begs.

"Get off the floor Nathan, stop embarrassing yourself," I say.

"I won't, not until you agree," he replies.

"Fine," I murmur.

"So, that's a yes?" Nathan confirms.

I nod.  He gets up and grabs me in a bear hug and kisses me square on the lips and can see Jack literally squirming- squirming, he looks indignant, appalled. 

"I gotta dash- have some bits to do for work but Jack will assist you with everything that needs doing," Nathan slams a folder pack on Jack and disappears through the front door.

It's awkward, I won't lie. I take Jack to the back where we sit at the table.  

"Would you like a cup of tea or something?" I ask.

"I'm fine, thanks," Jack says.

I take out a couple of photographs and glance at them, they're beautiful.  It's a set room, modestly done with their furniture.

"That's one of our well known pieces and our popular ones, we want to expand to the US and Asia hence the launch. We've got investors whose colleagues are coming on their behalf for this, so it's pretty important."
Jack says staring at the photographs with me.

"How much do they sell for?" I ask, because they are simply stunning.

"Why, you interested?" Jack asks.

"Maybe," I reply.

"This piece is pretty popular, retail price is £1050 because we find the best wood and fairtrade... and we're very environmentally friendly, every tree cut down another two are put up in it's place."

"Wow, and are these made by machine or..."

"By myself... you can imagine how extensive the waiting list is though," he says and my eyes immediately dart to his hands.

He looks down at his, "They've seen better days- I have lost count of how many splinters I have or had even."

"Don't you feel under pressure?"

"Pressure, no, not really... it's something that I love, carving, making, doing... I wouldn't change it for the world. If they want it as half as much as I think they do, they can wait... they know that it's one man and his wood..."

I laugh out loud, because he just said, one man and his wood - that's hilarious.

"Why are you laughing?" he doesn't get it.

"I'm sorry, but you said one man and his wood and I just thought about the naughty side of that...  best thing I've heard today!"

He grins, "So, getting back to the drawing board... how do we go about organising two hundred and fifty cakes?"

"The magic of technology is on our side, some will be printed on fondant to showcase your work... this is edible- it's food colouring for cake printing and I'll make some little shapes out of what you've given to me... it should be okay, I hope... I'll have to put in a lot of long hours but I'm used to that."

"Would you let me watch you work?"

"No, not unless you actually help and maybe I will... okay, let me have a look at these things and then I'll let you know,"

"You can reach me at the office, that's where I usually am... in and out of hours."

I smile.

"I better be off, have loads of shaping and engraving to do," Jack says, and I automatically feel deflated.

"I'll talk to you soon."

He smiles and leaves by the way he came. I look down at the brochures and get to work.

It's seven in the evening and at this time, I've drawn up samples to show Jack what could possibly be his cupcakes for the launch. I pick up the phone and dial the office, it's ringing and ringing on end and decide to hang up, he's probably gone home or something.  I rivert back to the cakes and the phone rings and it's Jack, he apologises for not hearing the phone until he stopped cutting.  I explain that I've done a sample batch for his viewing whenever he's ready to see them.  He says he'll be right there, give or take ten minutes.

He's there exactly in that time and knocks on the door, I usher him inside and bolt the door shut and lead him out back.  He's in overalls, sawdust on his shoes and I notice there is a cut on his forefinger where a large plaster has been intricately wrapped around it.  I unveil the cupcakes to him and there's silence and then he turns to me and nods his head gallantly.

"This is probably the best cupcakes I have seen in forever, thank you - we will definitely go with them, equal share of all please."

I smile and get to it.

"You're not seriously starting them now are you?"

"No, tomorrow... I'll be in a fresher state of mind then, I'm just seeing how much ingredients I have left before I need to order or get some."

"What are you doing after gauzing?" Jack asks.

"Probably veg out in front of the TV or go to sleep, dunno."

"Would you like to accompany me to dinner?" Jack asks.

I pause, "I would love that."

"I'll be back in twenty minutes, I just need to change and then I'll come back and pick you up... how are you about motorcycles?"

"Umm, not too sure, as I'm wearing a skirt today..."

"Sure, we'll do something local instead then," he smiles and turns to leave, "I'll see my way out, I'll be back shortly."

After he's left, I can't believe my luck... it's turned around - maybe not going to Paris was meant to be.