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A cake sale for Ukraine

A colourful house in Kyiv, Ukraine
A house in Kyiv, Ukraine, 2019. Photo credit: Marjan Blan, Unsplash.

Just like everyone else, I couldn’t watch any more about Ukraine. I felt so angry with myself for not doing anything; but what could I do? I could give money; everyone I know has been giving money, clothes or blankets. But it’s not enough. So, in the small hours when (again) I couldn’t sleep, I decided to have a cake sale.

I can knock out cakes with the best of them. Recently, I have been baking when I’ve been angry (and that’s quite a lot lately…), so we had quite a few cakes in our freezer.

I wrote a very rudimentary message for our street WhatsApp group and sent messages to a few friends too; the response was very positive. People said they would come and volunteered to bring cakes as well.

At this point – just to set the scene – I should probably be posting pictures of my kitchen: the place where the action is – rather like Jamie Oliver does.

Lots of people I know have gleaming kitchens: shining chrome and polished white surfaces containing the latest kitchen equipment. A surgeon could happily perform open heart surgery in these kitchens, and the nurses and doctors wouldn’t even need to mask up. These are space age kitchens.

My kitchen isn’t like that.

Life: not according to plan

In my life plan – conceived when I was in my late teens – I would be living in a house in the country that had a large kitchen with an Aga. (I was brought up in a house with one.) In my imaginary life, I would be teaching (just a bit, I wouldn’t want to wear myself out), writing novels (I would obviously be a contender to win the Costa Book Prize) and I would somehow also have time for gardening. Clearly, to accomplish all this I would be on speed. Obviously, I wouldn’t have time to sleep because I would also have children and a dog. And a husband – just a mere detail…

This didn’t happen (apart from a husband). If it had, I would have probably died from exhaustion by now.

My kitchen hasn’t got an Aga and it certainly doesn’t resemble the picture in my head. Instead, it reminds me of the set from Look Back in Angerby John Osborne. The set for the dress rehearsal, not the first performance. 

In my kitchen, the music is always on. Not the radio – music of my choice. 

Fortunately, I can cook. I was part of the generation that learned domestic science at school – and my mother cooked well. So, I baked lots of cakes; borrowed a wallpaper pasting table from one of my daughter’s friends and boxed up and priced all the many cakes.

Disaster on Cake Day

On the Sunday morning of the cake sale, my husband announced that he didn’t feel at all well (only well enough to take the dog out but nothing more). I contemplated the likelihood of the existence of quickie divorces in the UK. How quick are they? Probably not quick enough for my divorce to be finalised before 2.30, the kick-off time for the cake sale. Fortunately, my friend and neighbour offered to help.

There was a light drizzle and an ominous grey sky; but people came with their cakes and biscuits. They spent their money; they donated many £10 and £20 notes. By the end of the duration of the sale (an hour) we had accumulated £340 for Ukraine charities.

One of my neighbours said that perhaps the next thing we need to do is to give up our spare rooms.

Most people in this country care; perhaps the shameful callousness of this government has shamed people into being more proactive than they would normally be.

One thing is for sure: most people in this country are better than the government that some of the people were tricked into believing. 

The author and friend in front of their cake stall
Claire Hill, left, with neighbour Liz Farr at the cake sale for Ukraine. Photo credit: Holly Taylor

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