The members of Pollop on the Nadge’s Woman’s Institute would have come up with the following adjectives to describe themselves, if prompted with either: discrete flattery; or the opportunity to view the lightly oiled pectoral muscles of Jem Hayrick, the local arable farmer and part time life model: industrious; considerate; modest.
In the eyes of the neighbouring WI in Dollop on the Nadge, you might easily add: competitive and ruthless.
For if ever there was the opportunity to indulge a little light oneupmanship, by common consent the stalwart members of that august institution would take it.
This particular trait became especially apparent during the annual culinary extravaganza that was the South Hampshire food festival. Notionally everyone was supportive of all the contributors efforts but dig a little below the surface and the sugary sweet aroma of freshly baked schadenfreude filled the air. Women, who were normally the epitome of the polite and the soul of propriety would cackle at a soggy bottom, snigger at a failed fancy, and guffaw at an underdone sponge. And had that been the only response, Pollop WI would have been ostracised long since.
Millicent Tripplenibbles was not one of those women. She rose above such petty behaviour and let her self evident skills do the talking. Indeed so eloquent was her gracious if slightly smug acceptance of all plaudits it was often said that it was Millicent who put the pie into piety.
The result was that, because of her efforts at the stove Pollop WI always ended the day with the top prize, the President’s Whisk Challenge Trophy.
That was until Oleander Forkgibblet joined Dollop’s cowed team. Oleander had spent most of her life pursuing a peripatetic existence seeking both unique recipes and a perfect life partner. Having spent futile years hotdogging in Frisco, jerking chickens in Jamaica, revealing her wonton side in Shanghai and currying favours in Kolkata she returned to Dollop unwilling to bend the knee to anyone in all things culinary and hoping that that the elusive sharer of bodily warmth would make him or herself (Oleander was the epitome of modern) apparent.
Word spread of this new practitioner and both sides looked forward to big day. While Millicent remained faithful to tradition, Oleander brought forth gasps of surprise with her wristy techniques and unique ingredients.
The temperatures rose and the heat of competition began to force the spectators to retreat. Eventually only the two chefs and the lone judge remained. And in that febrile furnace the initial curiosity towards the other opponent began to melt, combining with a deepening mutual regard and coalescing, as the resultant ingredients intertwined, finally infusing into love.
There was that moment when everything else disappeared and each woman only had eyes for the other. The baying crowd, the anxious judge, even the hubbub from the cooking all faded from the consciousness of Millicent and Oleander. They knew how much better they would be, baked together, how nothing could stop them becoming the greatest ever.
That insight lasted until the ovens and stoves, left unattended for too long, exploded. The two lovers and the judge were seared into a pose, flambéed together in a cautionary tale that spoke of desire, hubris and the importance of remembering to check that you’ve turned off the gas.
This was written in response to the latest #writephoto prompt