Middle Class Problems: When it comes to street-party food one should always start, as Nature intended, with the cakes


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It's that time of year when many a charming road – even more charming if it's a cul de sac – lays out the bunting and gets together for a communal giggle/second-hand sell-off of old keks into which you can no longer fit.

There's face-painting for the young 'uns, natch, and possibly a bouncy castle, if you got your funding right (every 'hood needs a good organiser).

There's music, too, of the 1950s variety, because everyone enjoys a jaunty reminder of the past, even if no one present was actually born then.

Then there's the tucker. One should always start, as Nature intended, with the cakes. So enticing are they, in their purple icing, piped so singularly by next door's seven-year-old, that one simply couldn't pass them by. That, and the little darling's mum is wheedling us into buying one. Fortunately, they last no more than two bites, so one can get on with looking for fodder that actually tastes of something.

Ah, the fire pit. Now we're talking. But exactly what are we talking? Sure, the burgers look good, but are they, um, cooked? Was the chicken corn-fed? Did it live a happy life? How are we meant to dine on its delicious wings if we don't know? And how can we possibly ask? If we do and they're not, how mortifying for the pit owner; they could never show their face again.

As for the drinks… hey, lads, come on, we're all having a good time, but must you throw your empties on our lawn. Lads? Fine, I'll pick them up. Just as soon as I've had another of those scrummy-looking fairy cakes…