What with the recession and the plight of the Chilean miners, not to mention Alex Read and his fight with Mr Kong Watson, I have been just too worried to type. The Secret Underground bunker in which I work is feeling the pinch and the Powers That Be are drawing up lists and checking them twice, trying to work out who’s naughty or nice.
To take my mind off things on Sunday I made some spelt flour cinnamon and honey cookies which looked amazing, but tasted like Chilean miners’ armpits. I gave them to the Ugly One to feed to the ducks in St James Park.
Recently we purchased a Barefoot Contessa style Kitchenaid; a great red beast of a machine which not only produces perfect cake mixes, but minces meat and kneads bread dough to a point where my bread rises to the perfect shape of a chubby dwarf’s belly. Previously, my bread has sunk and resembles the flat and lifeless abdomens of evil thin people.
On 26 August, my ancient bread tin having given up the ghost I ordered a 2lb adonised industrial bread tin from De Cuisine, an online company who seemed to have cornered the market in bread accessories.
Having heard nothing after two weeks I rang their helpline and spoke to a very friendly brummie.
‘My order number is 78666,’ I said.
‘Oooooh, the number of the beast,’ he said. ‘That don’t bode well. Hang on. Ohhhh… adonised bread tin. Now, I can tell you what’s happened there without even looking it up. My son and daughter-in-law, right, they’ve gone and gone on holiday for two weeks and left me with all this. Can you imagine?... What I did, I’ll tell ya, what I did was, I ordered the steel bread tins not the adonised ones. Now, the adonised ones are on order, and I should be able to have one out to you Wednesday. I know you’re keen to get on with your baking, so we’ll do our best. That’s part of the problem, you know. Baking has become really popular. It’s the new knitting.’
This all sounded promising, and I hadn’t had to say a word as the garrulous brummie had dealt with the conversation all by himself, so I got on with my life. I baked a series of 1lb loaves in some old bread tins that seem to have been passed down to me from First World War bakers who took them to the trenches by the look of it, but two weeks later I got a bit vexed and did a search on t’internet for feedback about this company.
It didn’t bode well, as the nice brummie had already pointed out. Some people waited months for things to arrive. I didn’t want to wait months. I tried to ring them again, but the number was permanently engaged. Luckily, the website which held most of the complaints about this company handily provided an additional number.
I got through straightaway. It was the friendly brummie again.
‘Oh yes… I remember. Number of the beast, yes. Right, well, the adonised tins are on their way to me. They should be out to you Wednesday,’
‘But that’s what you said last time.’
‘I know, and I apologise, but I’m hoping that we’ll be able to ring you with good news on Wednesday.’
‘You will ring?’
‘Yes… or I can e-mail.’
‘Please do both.’
Wednesday dawned. By lunchtime having received neither call nor e-mail from De Cuisine I rang their secret number again. A nice brummie lady answered me this time, and things became somewhat surreal.
‘Oh, yes, six six six, sir. The gentleman’s with another customer at the moment but if you hang on he’ll be with you in a tick.’
The nice lady put the receiver down and muted conversation ensued, which suddenly became louder and clearer.
‘Yes, but there’s sawdust everywhere.’ she said
‘Is it sawdust?’ said the brummie man.
‘Yes, look at it. It’s all over everything and it’s into the computers. Look, it’s thick.’
‘Oh yes. Sawdust.’
Long pause. ‘Well…. That will have to be dealt with.’
There was a rattle and the brummie man was through to me.
‘Hello sir, it’s the number of the beast again, isn’t it?’
‘You were supposed to ring me today.’
‘Yes. I was going to ring you later this afternoon. If I can just explain what’s happened, someone from our delivery company has died.’
‘Yes, died. And everyone’s at the funeral today, but the anodised tins will be here tomorrow and I’m certain that you’ll be receiving a dispatch e-mail tomorrow.’
To be honest I was a bit stunned by the audacity of the explanation. As an excuse it’s a corker, being both disarming and unexpected. In retrospect I should have frothed and raged and demanded my bread tin be couriered in by helicopter, but the dead body tactic did for me.
However, the next day, the brummie did me proud and a mail did indeed arrive confirming dispatch and the lovely bread tin arrived the next day and is now doing sterling work providing me with decent sized loaves.
So, De Cuisine are not, as many people seem to think, a scam. They provide very good equipment, but are somewhat laid back about sending it out. I can recommend their adonised bread tins, but be prepared to wait.