The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th November 2020

Another Tuesday, another edition of The Great British Bake Off, but tonight it’s the final. So by the time I finish writing this and post it I shall probably know who the winner is. Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell. To be honest I am more worried about my bike light which is not charging than the fate of the bakers’ cream slices. The front light charged perfectly, the rear does one little flash to say it recognises it’s on the charger and then, nothing. I’m going to unplug it and try again later.

It is strange as the days cool and the sun sets shortly after four in the afternoon to see the GBBO tent and the contestants sweltering away during a heat wave in high summer, all blue skies, shorts and sunshine.

More announcements from our unesteemed Prime Minister, B Johnson, about what we can expect to be able to do at Christmas. Without wanting to go all bah humbug it does sound crazy to allow up to three households to mix indoors for five days. Maybe Johnson thinks everyone lives in a big house, doesn’t realise how families cram around the dining table and squeeze into tiny sitting rooms to watch the Queen’s Speech or whatever the blockbuster movie of the day is. It always used to be The Great Escape. I must have seen that film a dozen times with my dad while my mum escaped to the kitchen. I don’t recall my sister watching it either, so she must have sloped off somewhere. If other families do the same that may make the sitting room a bit safer.

I imagine there will be some pretty intense conversations around the country with families trying to decide what’s best. Unless miraculously the infection has dropped massively by late December I think I’ll be doing the one household Christmas Day indoors with the two or three households mixing outside options.

Boxing Day is traditionally when everyone goes out for a walk to do a little towards working off the calories consumed the day before. Maybe this year we could just do long distance walks over the whole of Christmas and the New Year. Just a thought.

I have accidentally invented my own Christmas dessert. I was making apple crumble, a staple chez Isobel et Chat, and wondered if the addition of some dried fruit would be a good idea. I knew I had some, what I didn’t remember was it was soaked in Armagnac. Crumble with a kick. I’ll be making it again. I don’t think you’ll be seeing it on Bake Off though.

When I first watched Bake Off some years ago it was with an arms folded what’s-all-this-fuss-about-cakes attitude. It was the year Nadiya Hussein won and from the first programme I wanted her to win. I love the way you start off watching a bunch of strangers making fancy things and getting emotional about it, and gradually get involved; how one or two of the bakers get under your skin and as the weeks pass you realise you have invested in them, and really you want all of them to win, though sometimes, as with Nadiya, you want one to win that much more than you want the others to win. This final is one where I don’t have a favourite which makes it more relaxing to watch. My favourite bakers have already departed for kitchens new, and I suppose this year there won’t be the big party with all the original bakers and their families. Instead it’s all the crew, the people who have been in the GBBO bubble. I’ll toast the winner and the two runners up with a glass of vegan Côtes du Rhône.

Congratulations bakers. Thank-you.

Stay safe. Keep well. Bake cakes.

4 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 24th November 2020

  1. Thank you for your forbearance, re GBBO. Netflix is showing it in installments and we here in the US just got the semifinal episode, only. So if you had “spoiled” I really would have been upset. Like you, I was pulling for Hermine and mourned her departure and wondered at it — was it just because her cube cakes weren’t up to her earlier performances? She did well in the technical . . . . I think this was wrong. Myself I’m pulling for Peter because he is so good and because he is from Edinburgh, even though he speaks posh-ish. I lived in Edinburgh and will always love it above all other places. David is kind of full of himself and where Laura is pretty much adorable, I think the others have her beat in the skills department. I have loved GBBO from the very start, for the reasons you state. Also, the nature elements are so lovely, and the vibe of the show is so supportive and fun, despite basilisk Paul. I still miss Mary and Mel and Sue, but Prue is a delight both in her empathy and in her clothes and specs, Noel is just fascinating, and Sandi and Matt were/are a riot. It is just the best. I can’t get enough.

    • Good long comment! heroine has a disastrous week in pâtisserie which should have been a walk over for her. I loved Lottie and was sorry to see her leave. It’s good to know how much you have seen so I can talk! But did you notice how Prue said Hermine had a bright future? I do think she has the charm, wit and personality to make it as a media cook. Whereas tonight’s finalists, good though they are, lack that something. Dave is awkward but sweet. Do you get An Extra Slice on Netflix? They have so picked up on his mannerisms. Laura is warm and messy. Peter is clever, kind and very young. None have immediate tv appeal. Though photos of Dave with his new born son may win him new admirers and fans.
      I too miss Mel and Sue. Much as I love Matt and Noel, but Mel and Sue set the benchmark and have been friends for donkey’s years; their repartee has the warmth and ease of that long friendship. Also Mary. Prue voted for Brexit and has a son who is a Tory MP which I find hard to forgive.
      As you enjoy Noel I am wondering if you managed to see any of Grayson Perry’s lockdown art club. Noel was in it quite a bit. Grayson Perry also did a short but fascinating series filmed pre Covid about the USA. It gave me a lot to think about.
      Enjoy the final!

  2. My husband and I are also thinking of the same type of celebrations you do think about as the proposals our authorities are launching look all too crowded

    • Oh I DID enjoy the final! I thought it was lovely. I was so proud of everybody for doing so well. Isn’t it fun to think that Laura is just yummy, and bin the precision.

      In that moment that Matt thanked the hotel staff, I actually felt a little tearful. He really is a darling, and that warmth is just so welcome in these terrible times.

      Well, Lottie. I too thought she was just wonderful, that sly sharp wit of hers, and she did a lot well in the baking department too.

      I didn’t catch that Prue comment about Hermine, and I’m so glad you pointed that out. I was a big fan of Hermine’s and I’m still smarting that she got booted the way she did. I still think that was wrong. So let’s hope the show can be her stepping-stone, the way it has been with Nadiya. I have caught a few of Nadiya’s “Time to Eat” Netflix episodes – they’re just not as engaging as GBBO. Really, GBBO is something really special.

      Drat, Extra Slice looks just great – but BBC wants too much of my personal data, Netflix doesn’t carry it, youtube just has snippets, and one other site triggered my anti-virus warnings. So – no, alas.

      And so it is Peter. I am pleased. His custard slices were just the bees knees to look at, really wow.

      Brrrrrrr what you say about Prue and her conservative son. I had no idea, and that really takes the shine off for me now. Now I can’t figure out how somebody could be as empathetic as Prue and take those political views. Damn politics anyway.

      Never heard of Grayson Perry – and to be honest, I’m not thrilled with what I googled of him. Don’t like his pots, feel a little nauseated when I look at them, to be honest – and I don’t care WHAT the context was for his comments about Covid thinning the dead wood! And no chance to watch that pre-Covid series you mentioned. So – well, no Noel with Grayson Perry.

      This has been fun. Maybe I’ll watch Season Three again, while we wait for the next one.

      And I am gutted to see that Luis has died. At 48!!! So very sad.

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