September days crawled into October darkness and with it the deeper, sadder realisation that a holiday is a far away dream. The novelty of getting back to school (as a teacher) becomes more of a daily chore. Christmas, although becoming closer each year in preparation, is still on the 25th December and we really need to get a grip. November glowers at us like the sprouts we must eat before getting to the real food. My hair is suffering. My clothes are suffering. My diet is suffering. My poor blog is smothering under the weight of my stress. My wellbeing needs a major overhaul.
I get stressed. Lesson plans bully me. Homework piles. Inspectors threaten. Sudents find their voices. The grumpy ones get louder and our ribbon of patience thins.
So I thank the wizard in the great Sky box every day for the easy watching that is the Great British Bake Off. On Tuesdays, I don’t need to watch crime shows. Hospital dramas. Missing children and serial killers are definitely the number one plot line in ninety percent of today’s must watch T.V. which is not very soothing for a bruised soul. So I am thankful for loving the non-threatening anxiety induced by curdling crėme brulee or a burnt offering on the gingham altar.
We almost lost this beauty. Last year, I really thought we were breaking up. The big sale happened and off they went. Mel, Sue, Mary left us. The show itself moved house. Migrated with Paul, the tent and on the major back foot. Then an amazing thing happened. It didn’t matter! The new format worked! Moved to Channel 4? Just got a bit ruder in the Benny Hill way. Lost the fab Mel and Sue? I love Sandie and Noel just as much. No Mary? I worship Mary. Her Baking Bible actually has made me bake real food that tasted good. This was tough. I mean this woman admitted raddling her children back in the day (we have Piers Morgan to thank for that unhealthy revelation) and no one cares. Mary would survive a chasm of scandal with her Bath dwelling charm. I really thought GBBO was in trouble. I now wonder how we did so long without the enigma that is Prue. She even spoiled the win with a misguided tweet last year and we just moved on. She wasn’t burned in one of the slidy door ovens as a witch for committing the travesty. (I think BBC might have found a way to smoke her out but C4 just made a joke out if it). In fact I don’t think we really need permatan Paul anymore. If Mary is replaceable so is Handy with too many Handshakes Hollywood.
I love a bad pun and every part of this show gives me that. Getting baps out, working it, soggy bottoms- they are endless. A new and rare baking challenge that lets you start afresh with the potential school boy rudeness is the best part of the show. Strain your spinach guys.
An Irish element
We have been gifted a standard one Irish person every now and then to get us feeling patriotic in this end of the world. Ian and his Bin Baked Alaska will never leave my mind and I was truly gutted to see 2018 Imelda leave over biscuits. Wagon Wheels for crying out loud. At least they were jammy ones. Keep applying Irish candidates!
Someone to Root For
An underdog. Someone quiet, vulnerable or shockingly modest will get all the flags waving. This year the honour goes to Rahul.
Someone to Eye Roll
I must admit Stacey got my goat last year and I uttered many the guffaw to her activities. This year Dan won my eyerolls. Someone every year that you just have to shake your head at is vital to the process. Yet we still like them. Villains are not a bake off thing.
Never mind your showstoppers. Heart-stoppers are the big draw here. A cake falling from a platform! Someone leaving another candidate’s icecream cake out of the fridge to make space for their own creation and not even telling them. Custard debacles. I get tense even thinking about it. Bodyguard style. Ruby has this year’s moment of crisis with a toppling cake. It was nail biting.
In a world where everything is so accessible, I am always devastated that I cannot access the goodies themselves as they are being baked. Anything with a meringue or toffee kills me. That melting chocolate surprise business was murderous. You need to have chocolate on hand Bake Off night.
It is almost always possible to guess who will not go through each round which is unlike my other must see reality contest show The Apprentice. What I see as bad manners and general thuggery, business man Sugar may see potential sales in therefore I do not always predict the fired one. Bake Off has a predictability that is comfortable. The tears and hugs are real. It gets hot in the kitchen but with a safety blanket to hand at all times.
The After Show
Less handshakes and more oneliners. My only criticism was Jo Brand. I felt last year she focused on fat jokes and was not sure where she was going with the show. This year she has cracked it and the banter gives me belly laughs. It is like Channel 4 set her free! A segment with ruthlessly acidic tongued comedian Tom Allen is a touch of gold that has me rolling.
Thank you Bake Off for giving me Tuesday night to enjoy life and get over the midweek slump. We needed your jolly, feel good humour. It is good for our mental health. It was my hygge in a season of stress. Alas, it is over for this year but it got me through the challenges of Autumn in all of its créme patisserie and free formed pie glory.