By Alysha Radia
Two Long Weeks
It’s SCAB time again, and with this one I thought I’d just take the time to sit back, recline, and look over the vista that was the past two weeks. Two weeks that for some reason have seemed much more like two months.
Christmas, for me, was not the break that I hoped it would be. Plagued by illness, I spent much of it in bed, and on returning to the church my bones and brain felt wearier than they did at the start of the break. Not a drop of alcohol or gram of sugar was consumed over the period in the name of starting term as on form as possible – so much for it being the most wonderful time of the year. Feeling terrible at the most joyous time of year really put a magnifying glass on the pressure that society puts on us to behave and feel a certain kind of way over the festive period and social media’s power to make you believe that if you aren’t doing things a certain way, you may as well not exist. It was weird to have distance from it all, and I’m proud that I found the strength somehow to not bow to convention, as miserable as it was. Christmas was spent in devotion to mind and body, instead of hedonism and gluttony – no bad thing.
I was, however, incredibly happy to be back, mostly to see everyone’s gorgeous faces again and to return to a place where I feel like my life has some meaning. It’s been a tough fortnight, without a doubt. The weeks started off with gruelling character assassinations via the medium of book’marc’ from Marc, the cutesy format of which somewhat managing to soften the blows. On mine were the words, ‘Never be vanilla. Keep adding heat until fully baked’, a reference to my side-hustle as a baker, but also my apparent tendency to do things that are safe and, dare I say it, boring. At first, I chose to ignore the ‘vanilla’ comment. “Marc just doesn’t know me”, I said to myself. “He’s just saying it because he knows it will annoy me”.
Yet, I found a profound truth in the latter half of the statement, especially in comparative conjugation with my deep, passionate love of all things gastronomical. It brought to the forefront of my mind the stark difference in dedication and level of craft and sheer motivation that I put towards my work at SCA in comparison to my work in the kitchen. I’ve been known to be on my feet for 12 hours in my own home to fulfil an order to the best of my ability, not accepting anything less than a cake that tastes even better than it looks, that is soundly structured, professionally crafted, and above all, completely bespoke and original both in flavour and design – because why bother creating something that has been created before?
At school, yes I work hard, but I’ve found myself recently settling at ‘good enough’. Nothing leaves my kitchen if it even errs on the side of over or under-baked and I revel in unique flavour combinations. I laugh in the face of ‘vanilla’ and instead I give you Grapefruit, Gin and Tonic or Raspberry, White Chocolate and Coriander Seed. I seek to create flavour combinations that will induce trepidation at the first bite, before melting your facial muscles into blissful approval. I need to unleash that experimental stride on my advertising, and start creating work that brings about the same level of boundary pushing dedication and pride in me.
PB2.1 unfortunately caused me to take back my initial disdain for the ‘vanilla’ comment. Our campaign for Gale’s honey may as well have been for a special vanilla flavoured edition of the stuff – it was a pile of drippy, gooey mush, and felt almost ashamed at what appeared to be a downward turn in quality of the work from what I had been doing in term 1 – nobody wants to regress. I’d like to blame it on ‘rustiness’, but in truth, a combination of poor time management and a distinct lack of courage that for the first time I saw in plain view, resulted in a campaign that was more sour than sweet.
The past few weeks, in all their glorious mountainous highs and canyon level lows have made me especially grateful, more than anything, for the people that I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the past few months, a few of whom have now risen the ranks from friends to an essential life-enhancing support system that I truly, truly could not be without.
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