Too Many Cakes Spoil the Dough

by Crystal Jones
© 2013 All Rights Reserved - 2634 words

Daisy decided to have a good look round the St. John’s Church Fete before going on to The Annual Cake Competition. She had been asked to be one of the three judges along with Commander McKenzie and her friend Gwen Placey, who owned the bakery where Daisy always bought her delicious whole grain bread and many other good things.
The annual event was being held in the Buckworth Farm field, as usual, and there were already a great many people enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Daisy stopped by at the Guess How Many Beans There Are in the Glass Jar stall and tried her luck. The Vicar’s wife was in charge of writing down all the various guesses, although she herself didn’t yet know the answer. Only her husband, Reverend Marsden, held the guarded secret which would be announced about five-thirty that afternoon. All the small children who saw the large cuddly toy who was to be the prize wanted to try and guess the correct number and persuaded their parents to give them the 25p necessary. It was all in the name of charity!
Daisy continued exploring the fete. There was a Coconut Shy where youngsters tested their expertise. A large tent had been set up for the Vegetable and Fruit competitions, where giant marrows and the reddest of tomatoes were laid out proudly by dedicated gardeners. A wonderful smell of basil and other herbs perfumed the tent.
The marquee was just opening for refreshments and Daisy bought a paper cup of deliciously flavoured tea. Daisy felt hungry but fought the temptation to eat something as she knew she had to sample lots of cakes and tarts at four o’clock for the competition.
“Miss Hamilton, lovely to see you!” It was Reverend Marsden, the local vicar speaking. “You were so kind to say you would be on the panel along with Mrs. Placey and Commander McKenzie.” He smiled at the other two judges, “I think you all know each other already! Please come and have a look at what the many kind ladies in the parish have cooked for the occasion!”
The Vicar accompanied them to the tent which was hosting the cake competition. Daisy wandered round a large table set out with the most delicious-looking homemade cakes and tarts imaginable.
“Well, it’s getting pretty warm in here!” exclaimed Gwen Placey.
“I should have thought you were used to the heat – working in a bakery!” observed Daisy.
Gwen looked sad. “Ah… maybe it isn’t for long!”
“Why, what’s happened Gwen? Please don’t tell me I’m not going to be able to buy your wonderful whole grain bread any more?”
“Time moves on… everything changes, as they say! Anyway, this year they’re going to give all the money they collect to a multiple sclerosis charity.”
Daisy decided Gwen needed cheering up. “Gwen, let’s go and have a reading from the clairvoyant – it’s just for a laugh you know, it’s only Betty Vickers from the florist’s dressed up pretending to read the future!”
“I don’t need a clairvoyant to tell me my future!” declared Gwen. “I’m going to be bought out and that’s for sure!”
“Bought out – what do you mean? If you don’t want to sell your shop you don’t have to!” Daisy protested.
“Daisy, please keep this confidential but er… I got complaints about my fairy cakes. Three people told me they tasted very funny and brought them back. Clearly somebody had added a lot of bicarbonate of soda to the cake mixture. They were horrible! Naturally I had to give them their money back. The day after, the doughnuts were salty!”
“So I suppose you think that someone is sabotaging your products – this someone who wants to buy you out?”
Gwen nodded. “The Skilsted Bakeries want to set up a network of shops here in this area. They’ve already bought up two bakeries offering them a price they couldn’t refuse!” 
“That is, you suspect they did the dirty on you to convince you to sell?” questioned Daisy.
“Yes, we recently took on a young man and we suspect he was sent by the Skilsted Bakeries to ruin our products – but we can’t prove it!”
“Does this young man still work for you?”
“No, we had to send him away. Dicky Shawl had been in trouble with the police before – we’d taken him on because Sergeant Tomkinson asked us to give him a chance as Dicky wanted to become a pastry chef.”
The two women now approached a small tent covered with strange symbols. £2 To Have Your Palm Read By Tamara The Wise was written at the entrance.
They went in together and Gwen had her palm read first. “I see that you have a very worrying problem at the moment!” Tamara recited. “But soon you will be saying all’s well that ends well!”
“Can I have my palm read now please?” asked Daisy.
Tamara nodded and took hold of Daisy’s hand. “You are clearing the path of that which must be understood, but before nightfall you will be aware of some strange phenomenon!” she predicted mysteriously.

Once outside the tent the two friends had a good laugh, “That was really a typical oracle – just one brief sentence and two pounds please!”
Then suddenly Gwen lowered her voice, “Daisy, that’s Dicky Shawl over there near the marquee with Sergeant Tomkinson – the two men collecting rubbish who are wearing T-shirts with St. John’s Church Fete written on them!”
“They seem to get along very well!” observed Daisy as she saw them laughing together. “So Sergeant Tomkinson has still got him under his wing. Mm…”
“Mrs. Placey, do you think you could give us a hand in the marquee – someone’s dropped out and we’re desperate…” It was the vicar speaking.
“See you later Daisy,” said Gwen, always willing to give someone a hand. 
Daisy found a seat nearby and observed the two men. They were both working hard putting plastic bags into large bins, then picking up pieces of paper and plastic containers nearby with the aid of a kind of long fork. When they had finished all this, Sergeant Tomkinson seemed to be suggesting something to Dicky and pointed towards the marquee. Daisy’s instinct told her to follow them discreetly.
Once inside the marquee the two men joined the queue with Daisy fast behind.
“Listen son, as there’s a queue you stay here and get me a ham and pickle roll while I find us a place to sit down!” said the policeman.
Dicky duly ordered a ham and pickle roll for Sergeant Tomkinson and a ham and tomato roll for himself, and two teas. When the lady behind the counter gave him the rolls, Daisy, who was next in the queue, asked for an egg and cress sandwich.
As Dicky got to the till he gave the cashier two vouchers. “Volunteers?” she asked with a smile.
Dicky joined Sergeant Tomkinson at a small table while Daisy paid for her sandwich with a banknote and told the cashier to put the change towards the fund. She then put the wrapped sandwich in her handbag and sat down right near them so she could overhear their conversation.
“Thanks Dicky! Is that mine? I hope they’ve put a decent amount of pickle in it,” said Sergeant Tomkinson biting into his roll.
His face fell, “Oh, they’ve forgotten the pickle!”
Dicky exclaimed, “Mine’s full of it!”
The policeman reasoned, “We must have got them muddled up. Mine says ham and tomato, what does yours say?”
Dicky looked at the label and hesitated.
“What’s wrong Dicky? Let me see. Oh, yours says ham and pickle. Well, never mind!” he exclaimed. “Anyway... nice cup of tea this!”
Looking at her watch, Daisy realised she was late and rushed to the Cake Competition where the other two judges, Gwen Placey and Commander McKenzie, were already sampling the cakes. Daisy apologised and tucked into samples of Viennese cake, black-currant tart, which was marvellous, carrot cake, which she hated, cheese-cake, fresh fruit tart, sultana and nut cake, honey cake, custard tart… and so on. Daisy thought it would never end and she vowed not to eat any cakes, tarts, pastries or anything sweet for the rest of her life!
At last the three judges awarded Mrs. Claire Honeybeam winner of the competition for her blackcurrant tart. Everybody applauded and crowded around to buy samples of the cakes and there was a very pleasant atmosphere. Daisy noticed that someone was immersed in the reading of the recipes which had been gathered together in a folder.
“Ah, that’s Dicky, I hadn’t recognized him,” she thought.
“Daisy, I have to get back to the marquee to help out,” said Gwen. “The person who was supposed to be there is coming, but only in an hour’s time.”
“Miss Hamilton, how about a cuppa now?” suggested Commander McKenzie.
“That would be nice,” replied Daisy, “we can accompany Gwen there.”
Once inside the marquee Gwen disappeared behind the scenes and  Commander McKenzie and Daisy sat down to their teas.
Commander McKenzie chatted away. “Actually I thought the custard tart was better then anything – but as you two ladies were in agreement about the blackcurrant one I took a step back.”
Daisy then noticed Sergeant Tomkinson and Dicky who were clearing tables. “A fine day for the fete, Miss Hamilton, isn’t it?” Sergeant Tomkinson smiled at her as he finished clearing the table they were sitting at.
Daisy suddenly had an idea and wrote something down on a piece of paper. “Excuse me, Commander, I’ll be back in a minute.” She got up and approached Dicky Shawl who was pushing a trolley towards the back of the marquee. As she showed him the piece of paper, Dicky looked puzzled and a little scared. “Yes, Miss – er… that’s right. Excuse me, Miss, I have to get on with my work,” and rushed off clanging his trolley noisily.
Now Daisy returned to her seat near Commander McKenzie who was talking to Sergeant Tomkinson. Taking off his glasses Commander McKenzie announced, “I’ve heard that the money collected from the fete might be sending along a record sum to the multiple sclerosis charity! Thanks to volunteers like you and your young helper!”
Dicky Shawl, who was still nearby, blushed with pride.
Commander McKenzie put his glasses on again and started reading a leaflet someone had left on the table. Daisy saw that he looked more interesting with his glasses on. “It’s so incredible how a decent pair of glasses can make such a difference!” she thought.
Now an announcement was made over the loudspeaker that Reverend Marsden was about to declare the winner of the Guess How Many Beans There Are in the Glass Jar competition. The winner turned out to be an eight-year-old girl, Matilda, who had guessed there were a hundred and fifteen beans, which was the nearest to the correct number, which was a hundred and eleven. The prize was a giant mauve teddy that Matilda was very happy to take away with the help of her father.

An hour later Gwen appeared from behind the scenes. “That was really hectic! Now I want to sit down for a cuppa at last!” 
“Gwen, I think I have some good news for you,” said Daisy. “It’s about Dicky Shawl. You may have misjudged him!”
“Misjudged him? What do you mean?”
Daisy started explaining, “You know, it seemed to me impossible that such a dedicated volunteer could be a paid saboteur who deliberately ruined the fairy cakes and doughnuts in your bakery in order to force you to sell out to the Skilsted Bakeries. So there had to be another explanation. I decided to observe Dicky and see if I could find something out.”
Now Daisy told Gwen about the scene of the mix-up of the rolls.
“What do you make of it?” said Gwen.
Daisy explained, “Well, when Sergeant Tomkinson asked Dicky what was written on the packet of his roll, he didn’t seem to be able to read the label. This made me think that he might have a reading problem. Which was confirmed later on when I showed him a piece of paper where I had written R-i-c-k-y S-h-o-l instead of Dicky Shawl. He told me it was the correct spelling of his name when it clearly wasn’t!”
Gwen was surprised, “Do you think he can’t read or something?”
“No, no, he can read!”
Gwen was even more surprised, “What do you mean, Daisy?”
Daisy smiled, “When I saw Dicky at the prize-giving of the Best Cake or Tart he was wearing thick-rimmed glasses and happily reading the recipes of all the cakes without any apparent difficulty! I couldn’t help noticing his glasses were terribly out-of-date, though, and made him look a bit odd.”
“But, Daisy, he never wore glasses when he worked for me!”
“That’s why he probably mistook the bicarbonate and salt for sugar in the bakery and ruined the fairy cakes and doughnuts. I think Dicky is very short-sighted and should wear glasses all the time but doesn’t like wearing them because he thinks he looks awful in them!” concluded Daisy.
Gwen looked aghast, “Oh no – if you are right I may have sacked him unjustly, Daisy!”
“Well, if I am right, he certainly was a bit stupid not to wear his glasses at work! Would you take him back again, Gwen?” Daisy asked.
“I certainly would,” answered Gwen, “but only on the understanding that he always wears his glasses! You know, our kids are not in the least interested in the bakery – James is a mechanic and Rosie is a hairdresser. When Dicky arrived he was so enthusiastic and I thought that maybe one day he could take over the business. I was so disappointed when I had to sack him! That’s why I’d almost given up hope and was getting used to the idea of accepting the Skilsted Bakeries’ offer. But now everything has changed.”
“Leave it to me, Gwen. Now I’m going to try and have a word with Sergeant Tomkinson!”

The next morning Dicky Shawl knocked hesitantly at Daisy’s office door which was ajar.
“Er... excuse me, Miss – er – Sergeant Tomkinson told me you wanted to speak to me!”
“Dicky, come in. Sit down and let’s have a cup of coffee.”
The young man sat down looking as though he was afraid he’d done something wrong.
“Look, I’ve got some pictures to show you.” Daisy put some magazines in front of him on the table. “Now, to see them properly you must put your glasses on!”
Dicky blushed and pulled his glasses out of his pocket reluctantly and put them on.
Daisy continued, “Look, these are all famous actors and well-known people and they all... wear glasses!”
“Miss, I get your point but I really look horrible in them!” the young man protested and took his glasses off again.
“Dicky, I don’t know who chose those frames but I can assure you that if you had a much more modern pair you would feel more confident. Mr. Sewell at the optician’s would be very willing to give you some advice. Shall we go down there together?”
A few days later Daisy went into the bakery to collect her bread. Gwen beamed at her. “Daisy, here’s a little something to have with Ted.”
It was a gorgeous bakewell tart.
“Thanks Gwen. So is everything all right now?”
“Yes, Dicky is back, all thanks to you. He's a good quick worker, you know. Actually it was Dicky who prepared the bakewell tart!” Gwen smiled and added, “Do you remember what Tamara the Wise said about all’s well that ends well?”
The two women laughed together.
“And do you remember what she said about a strange phenomenon?” quipped Daisy, “She was right, you know, I ate too much that day and felt quite ill!”


Finished on 3rd August 2013.