“GOT TO FIND SOME CAKE!” shouts Tadpole, at the top of her lungs, to no-one in particular. She has got into the habit of repeating everything I say, turning the words over in her mouth so see how they sound.
As a result, I have to exercise extreme caution when we are out and about. No more thinking aloud along the lines of “I must remember to pack some seriously negligent pants for the weekend”.
I am feeling rather desperate. Mr Frog is due to appear to whisk off Tadpole for the evening in just under half an hour, and I promised Tadpole we would have surprise cake and candles for his birthday. Forgetting a key piece of information when I did so: our local bakery is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
I peer half-heartedly through the window of the Chinese takeaway, with its unappetising looking boules de coco and almond tarts. Not really Mr Frog’s thing, and definitely not Tadpole’s. How about a brownie from the kosher sushi and bagel emporium across the road? No go. The metal shutters are pulled firmly closed. With a sigh, I retrace my steps towards the garage, which harbours a huit à huit minimarket. Cake out of a packet will have to do. Sacrilegious in a country where the pâtisserie fare is so unbelievable, and the packaged cakes so dire, but it can’t be helped.
Intentions: good. Execution: room for improvement.
The minimarket has a predictably poor selection. Some tired looking madeleines, a cake anglais (which generally refers to a rather pale and wan fruit cake containing glacé cherries, the likes of which I have yet to actually eat in England), and a bag of individually wrapped fondants au chocolat. I settle for the chocolate cakes, and dash home.
Mr Frog appears, shortly after the appointed hour, and I ask him to stay for a beer, to give me an excuse to repair to the kitchen. I have arranged three cakes on a plate, a striped blue candle lolling at a drunken angle in the centre of each. Tadpole, the soul of discretion, says “happy birthday cake mummy” in a stage whisper as I am leaving the room, but I don’t think Mr Frog notices.
As I bring my masterpiece through to the living room, Tadpole starts singing “happy birthday” right on cue. Mr Frog looks up, startled, and I can see he is genuinely touched.
For a fleeting moment, I catch myself wishing that we were still living together as a little family, sharing moments like this every day.