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With Neil Andrews

(Don’t) Let Them Eat Cake

There are many health and safety rules we should follow. They say we should always hold the handrail on escalators. I ignore that one as I feels it’s more likely I’ll survive a fall down the escalator then the pox I’d catch from touching where other people have touched.

They also say you shouldn’t run with scissors but I haven’t found a need for that all my adult life. I’ve never been in that much of a rush to maintain a scrapbook.

The latest piece of advice comes from the nation’s food tsar who warned that bringing cake into the office is as bad as smoking. It’s not, though, so don’t worry.

Professor Susan Jebb, chairwoman of the Food Standards Agency, compared bringing cake into the office with passive smoking. That’s why I now request regular ‘cake breaks’ where I stand outside and have a crafty Battenberg. I wouldn’t want anyone to get my second-hand cake, which I think in this metaphor would be crumbs.

The Prof said, “If nobody brought cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day, but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them.”

People bring cigarettes into the office but I do go riffling through their bags to get my hands on some, so it’s not a perfect analogy. The point being made is that a smoky pub can trigger your cravings to smoke and seeing a cake sat by the office kettle could trigger you to grab a fork eat some.

What you could try is not eating the cake. I know, it’s a radical idea but I think it might just work.

The birthday office cake trap

She said stopping work cake would create a supportive environment for your colleagues. Have you met people? They are not always that supportive.

I once worked in a radio station where one of the sales team was a sport-loving woman with an athletic frame. She was the thinnest of all of us. She went on a skiing holiday and broke her ankle. When she came back to work, with her leg in a cast, she bought cakes and doughnuts almost everyday. After a few months I realised that her immobility had caused her to gain some weight but thanks to all the pastries we’d bloated too and she was still the thinnest among us.

While Professor Jebb’s reasoning might be in question her main goal, of ending work cake culture, should happen. There is an expectation that, on your birthday, you buy cakes for everyone in the office. I thought your birthday was the one day – in this life filled with the expectation that you constantly do things for others – when you actually got to receive for once. Sure, as a man of a certain age it’s all socks and aftershaves you’ll never use, but at least it’s about you for once. But I have to go cake shopping for others on the way into work?!

Ban it like smoking, please.

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