Inspired by the custard-scene in ‘Young Adam’ by Alexander Trocchi, ‘Cake’ is about a married couple traumatised in contrasting ways by the recent death of their son.
She had wanted to do something upbeat in memory of her son Adam who had recently died after a fight on a boat. She decided to bake a cake of happiness, as Adam used to like eating cake. But she could not decide on what shape the cake should be. A round smiling face? Maybe not a great idea. It would surely only put her husband in a mood, have him, her Don, thinking once again that she was never going to be anything but lost and disgusting for the rest of time. No, she needed to be more creative.
Later that morning, while browsing through his library of books, she came across a slim hardback of old picture postcards, Camberley in old picture postcards Volume 2. She had never before seen this book and enjoyed flicking page after page, the story of a growing small town, a world before cars, a forgotten time, all recorded in black and white. The very last postcard in the book was a strange one. It had a large symbol she associated with evil but had a message that read: TO WISH YOU LUCK FROM CAMBERLEY and was accompanied by a symbol and the following: SWASTIKA (Ancient Indian Symbol for Luck). This Sign brings luck, I’ve heard folks say, so do not throw this Card away.
She went on to read some small accompanying narrative about how the swastika was not an invention of Hitler; he had stolen it and the symbol actually represented well-being not National Socialism. She immediately felt an urge to reclaim the symbol.
In memory of her son she had wanted to bake a cake of happiness and now she had a perfect feel-good shape for her cake. For the rest of the day she worked hard in the kitchen. Butter, milk, eggs, flour, raisins, caramel, much love and some blue food colouring. Blue is the colour of
. Her Don’s team. Man City
But out on the road, failed Sales Manager Don was as tired of football as much as he had grown so tired of his wife and being forever behind the wheel. Man City was his team but he loathed modern football, sitting down to watch a game instead of standing and even when City won a game, it was always a hollow joy, a narrow victory when with all the money they had, they should be the most feared club in Europe. He knew no one really feared those rich pricks that came to the club to stroll around grass. Yesterday they couldn’t even beat a Division Three team in the cup. Only in Tevez did he feel the faint flicker of a passion lost. His Monday on the road to nowhere was yet again one of selling nothing, being hung-over and desperate.
might have all the money in the world but he had fuck all, his life was well and truly down the pan and he knew it. Cemented in his mind, four words. His son was dead. No father should outlive his son, not like he was living. Empty-handed Don said one thing to console himself on the drive back home. Man City
“It better be ham, egg and chips tonight, she better not let me down with the tea again.”
The sweetness of a morning bakery scented the hallway as Don entered from the black late afternoon. Less than sixty seconds later and in a fit of rage, abandoned eggs and flour previously on the kitchen worktop was covering her as she cowered on the floor. Don then looked about for more things to arm himself with. He broke the offering of her baked happiness and rammed a few chunks down her cake-hole, suffocating her in sponge. While she whimpered softly, he reminded her how she had definitely fucking lost it this time by doing fuck all all day other than making him a fucking swastika cake.
Because he had broke what was the last of the eggs, Don not only had to settle for just ham and chips, but he also had to cook the meal himself – no point asking her now – and because he was still hungry later, and with her out the way, soaking in the bath with the door locked, he went and tasted some of the ruined cake that had been spared his homecoming fury. And he agreed in a silent gesture, not bad.