Giving us all our daily bread is a more complex operation than most of those otherwise engaged in battling against Covid, Islamaphobia, White Supremacy and Chris Whitty might imagine. In today’s diary fragment, Nobby opens the door to every professional secret on the subject of separating the wheat from the chaff.
Many ask, ‘how do I become a kneader of dough?’ My answer is you’ve gotta have some dough. It’s essential you have access to it. Pretending it’s dough when it’s not dough and then pointlessly kneading it only serves to delude oneself into believing you’ve kneaded dough when you really haven’t. In short, it’s a waste of fucking time. Whats more, wanting to knead a lump of dough and being able to knead a lump of dough are three very different things.
My thrice yearly Dough Kneading Course begins with a demonstration on how to make dough, how to knead it, how to bake it into bread and what to do with it once you’ve got it. It’s no good making a huge number of loaves if you’ve no idea what to do with it. It’s simple. Once you’ve got the bread you’ve gotta have some idea of how to get rid of it. If you’ve no plan on how to dispose of the bread all you’ll achieve is great piles of bread that clog up the space and the business will fail. My motto is knead it, bake it and sell it.
Course, a Bakery is a place of safety where people come to get their bread and cakes. They don’t want any trouble. They rarely think, ‘let’s go down to the Bakery and have some trouble.’ They just want bloody bread. And so, to eliminate hostage taking, cock and dog fighting and any other violent stuff that’d upset the customer, on the Dough Kneading Induction I say to the Course attendees, ‘lads, this is a place of safety. Are any of you armed with a gun and capable of shooting a customer dead because they’ve complained that the loaf they purchased was shit?’ Normally at least one, sometimes two lads will acknowledge they’re armed to the teeth and are capable of discharging a couple of bullets and murdering the moaning bastard.
Course, this issue can’t be tolerated in the Bakery and so, after confiscating what’s normally a small pocket Derringer pistol, a samurai sword and an old pirates cutlass I politely ask the potential killer or killers to leave telling them, ‘lads, I’ve no doubt you’d be a natural kneader of dough but you’ve failed the Dough Kneaders Course. We can’t have our customers subjected to this level of violence’. You see the last thing the loyal customer wants is to be shot dead. If I didn’t take this stance, then getting shot dead would be the last thing they got. You simply can’t have it. Not in the Bakery.
The next step is to out any would be arsonists who fancied burning the Bakery down. You see, nowadays, because of the arsonist, we’re losing twenty bakeries a day. We can’t build bakeries fast enough to keep up with demand. It’s essential that the staff in the Bakery are delivering bread rather than constantly extinguishing fires. And so, without the future risk of having to constantly extinguish a number of fires set by the arsonist, I ask the lads, ‘lads are any of you in possession of fifty bales of hay, a bundle of bone dry kindling twigs, fifty gallon of liquid accelerant and a pocket full of matches?’
This question always detects the arsonist. Particularly when I search them and discover that their unholy payload has been secreted beneath their baggy outer garments. Inevitably, I tell them, ‘lads, sadly you’ve failed the Course. Your fixation on fire and your remarkable ability to somehow get fifty bales of hay tucked down your pants presents a risk to not only life but our future ability to trade in this Bakery.
The next step of the Course has been cleverly crafted to avoid any accusations of any discrimination on account of someone’s disability. What I do is talk about the fascinating life in the Bakery, unusual encounters with celebrities and beautiful women and the thrill of kneading lumps of dough, popping them into the oven and creating bread. Then, I gently point out that having two hands (as opposed to having only one or no hands) is a critical requirement to knead dough. You see, even before I began the Dough Kneaders Course I would have noticed any individual who was deficient in the number of hands they were equipped with. It’s a skill. One acquired after many years of dough kneading. You see, I quietly make a mental note of a one handed man or a no handed man and instead of immediately pointing out that one hand or no hands is a bit of a problem, I say absolutely nothing and leave it to them to work out and count how many hands they’ve got.
Of course, after I’ve subtly mentioned this requirement, avoiding any discriminatory language, namely that two hands are better than one or none, at least four applicants will announce, ‘I’m fucked. I don’t have two hands’.
In response to this heartfelt disclosure, I’ll embrace him or her, both sexes are equally capable of lacking the correct number of hands to knead dough and I tell them, ‘you’ve failed the Course. Don’t give up on your dreams of kneading. If in the future we don’t get any applicants with any hands and it’s highly likely we will, you’ll be the first person we call to join us in the Bakery and begin the Dough Kneading’.
The next step is to test the would be Kneaders ability to withstand pain from third degree burns. See, when the oven doors are opened and the baked bread is removed from the trays, often the heat burst of five thousand degrees from within the ovens can result in instant incineration or third degree burns. It’s essential I carry out this test.
And so therefore, those that are still on the Course are all required to sit in close proximity to the oven doors and experience the oven heat burst. Then, if they’re not on fire and many often are and they are still able to remain semi conscious, the final test of Dough Kneading suitability is I require them to use both hands and clutch onto two lovely freshly baked red hot loaves. The one who chucks the loaf first because the agony is too great to withstand is clearly the one who’s not fucking stupid and isn’t prepared to lose all the flesh on either hand just to become a kneader of dough
For the remaining applicants who had two hands, weren’t arsonists and had no means to slaughter a customer, who, for reasons best known to themselves bravely clutched onto what was essentially a couple of burning hot freshly baked loaves, I tell them that they too have failed the Dough Kneading Course.
This article first appeared in the West Riding-Hood Asylum for the Criminally Insane Magazine, Volume VII, Issue 9 of September 2014, and is reproduced here with the kind permission of SAGE