The Inaugural season of The Great British Baking Show (Beginnings) did more for me to recover from Covid-19-like symptoms than the sum total of the federal response of the supposed greatest democracy that ever was and so-called leader of the free world.
Mary Barry and Paul Hollywood guided me through the eye of the storm far better than a healthcare system that began to rot in 1968 or so when Nixon made a deal with one of his chums. Further, Sue and Mel brought more kindness and sanity, based on an actual meritocracy, to give me trust in the order of things and the power of a good recipe for success. The hard-nosed truth is that the pinnacle of modern science could do nothing to combat a less than single cell organism once it is introduced like a bingo ball into one’s immune system. We play bingo with ourselves and anomalies pop up all over. It is a lottery. Whether we like it or not.
Anyone who has intimate knowledge with Covid-like symptoms knows that we want our immune system to work, but not overwork, because what makes this wee fucker so fucker-ish is that it causes our natural defenses to go haywire and turn against ourselves. And no one knows how each individual will respond. There are trends. Yes. But there is nothing but uncertainty. My very own doctor repeated over and over again when asked question after question, “we don’t know. We just don’t know.”
Which is why the contestants on the Great British Baking Show staring with hope into their ovens gave me the comfort I lacked from a nation’s government that lacks all compassion. Even in their most dismal failures, it was still something sweet. And no one was pitted against each other. The only thing they had to contend with was the intemperance of English summers and what looked like an infestation of dandelions in the English garden behind their white tent.
And unlike our current political cast, the contestants were chosen for their skill rather than their predilection for drama. I believe in The Great British Baking Show as a necessary medicine in the ongoing battle against a worldwide pandemic. And would vote for any of them to lead the U.S. federal response, or at least some kind of symbolic cabinet position of human kindness and sweetery.
Learning what a bain-marie was brought me and my immune system the much needed distraction in my ten-eleven-day cycle of freak out, watch people bake, meditate, pee, repeat so I could advance to the recovery phase of this whole thing. Learning about what piping is and that meat pies once contained eel was much better than learning about the death toll and whether we were flattening the curve
I recall U.S. Grant would take to whittling a stick when his soldiers were in battle. There is a famous anecdote of just such behavior on the high ground above Cold Harbor. Because he knew he could do nothing. His plans were in place and the thing was under way. Fighting a virus with no known cure except blind faith in your own system and your generals requires that kind of mindless and totally unimportant thing to focus on. Without a stick to whittle, I took to learning the concepts of baking and English nomenclature.
In any meditation, mantras or focus points, mudras, or even just focusing on the breath- it gives us a diving bell. Into ourselves and relaxation and peace. And encouraging Cathryn to believe in herself as she made sweet and savory bakes was just that. And for that length of time, I was exempt and unexposed to the vector of infection of deception and conceit known as the President’s daily briefings. I had to get really sick to feel free from his insane vitriol. Getting the thing (we think) brought a welcome respite from baring witness to the slow-moving train wreck of the single worst governmental leadership since Nero. And just like the disease itself, Trump deceives in his attempt to get the system to turn on itself. An irony not lost on me.
But the credit must be shared with honorable mentions going to Zero Zero Zero, Derry Girls, and our nightly bedtime story of catching up on how Marty and Wendy Byrd were doing.
Yearning for the normalcy of the Byrd family in Ozark where they only had to survive a war between the KC outfit and the cartels and not the insanity, ineptitude, and cruelty of a nation that no longer serves in the best interest of its citizenry helped alleviate the minor symptoms of inflammation that could prove dangerous when Tylenol or Chinese Curing Pills could not. And watching the ingenuity of Brandon, the dignified imp himself, navigate all the world’s challenges of making a good bake with gentle Hobbit-like jurisprudence and innocence lends a much needed and neighborly sweetness to an otherwise improbable time. For we are all in the baker’s oven right now, regardless if we know it, or not. Whether we will we rise or fall is entirely up to how well we have been proven.
After thought: So I guess, A. was right when she spotted me making coffee in the traditional way and helping with the dishes that I am starting, “to feel feisty and artfully complain” and therefore must be doing better.