Monday, April 7, 2008

The Homer Cake and Herodotus

I don't quite think this does justice to the extraordinary vision that was the Homer cake. Inside was a mixture of orange and chocolate sponge, pasted together with chocolate buttercream filling, covered in a layer of marzipan and then coated with royal icing and hand painted.

Me? Make that? hahahahahaha. No. I have a spouse whom no words can quite adequately describe, and this is one of his party tricks. Both minions are little April Arians, with no.1. minion first on the calendar. After last year's Dalek and Tardis cakes, there was some deep decision-making over cake requests for 2008. And this was what No. 1 came up with. Homer. So Homer Simpson was what he got.

In a couple of weeks, Spouse-guy has to ready himself for a K-9 cake. Yup, the metallic robo-dog from Dr Who. Gallons of edible silver paint are being airfreighted from Surbiton Sugarcraft as we speak. Yes, Surbiton. Who would have thought that Surbiton was a cache of edible silver products?

Meanwhile, I've finally managed to read a book this month, in between editing a magazine and sorting out the first draft of the masters, oh yes, and that teaching business, I'd forgotten, and the crashing of computers and collapsing of interactive whiteboards. And the book was worth it.

Travels with Herodotus by the late and deeply lamented Ryszard Kapuscinski was the kind of book I just wanted to carry on and on and on. But it is marked by tight, elegant writing and brevity. Kapuscinski recalls his own first tentative steps as a foreign correspondent in the late 1950s and 1960s, travelling to India, China, Ethiopia and the Congo. On his way from Warsaw to India, he is taken under the wing of a more sophisticated Italian journalist who helps him buy a proper suit so that he looks less like an Eastern Bloc tyro. He seems perpetually short of funds and quite often short of the means of communicating his copy to his masters in Poland. His stay in China is particularly fraught, coming at the abrupt and harsh end of the Hundred Flowers period. His appointment had been made during the blossoming stage, when China was briefly prepared to consider the possibility of a foreign journalist (at least one from an Iron Curtain country) working on a Chinese newspaper, but by the time Kapuscinski arrives, the Anti-Rightist movement is on its way and intellectuals are beginning to be shipped out to the countryside.

Meanwhile, Herodotus keeps Kapuscinski company, a constant quizzical, curious, humane and energetic presence, his own lucid prose and inquiring mind bounding across the millennia to comfort and inspire one of our finest journalists. I can't recommend this book too highly.

1 comment:

Amy Addison said...

The cake is fabulous! I once made a fishbowl cake I was pretty proud of, and I remember the Dr. Who cakes. Your husband is a genius.

Thanks for the book recommendation. One more for the TBR pile.