After a night of fasting, I’d had my blood drawn at the hospital and was permitted to eat and drink again. It was too early for lunch. I wandered along the hospital corridors, past the pseudo-French bakery, past Starbucks, past 7-eleven. Nothing appealed. Then I saw it: a stall selling cupcakes and coffee.

I’d never tried a cupcake before, though almost every week Martha Stewart practically orgasms on screen over them, so I knew they must be something truly wonderful, a delicacy on a part with the first asparagus of the season, truffles, foie gras and the finest caviar. I had to have one.

Judging by their appearance, they are some sort of mutant bastard offspring of British fairy cakes. The colours – lurid pinks, fluorescent greens, vivid mauves – have no counterpart in nature. I didn’t let that put me off. I just knew from Martha that these were something amazing.

I chose one of the less gaudy offerings: mutant caramel flavour. It came in a little plastic cup with a domed lid. Remembering that this is an American delicacy, I realised that it was meant to be eaten with one’s hands, just like hamburgers, pizzas and almost everything else. (Well, that plus the fact that no knife and fork was proffered.) Emulating a snake, I dislocated my jaw to take a first, tentative bite. I could feel my teeth turning to black, rotten stumps as they sank their way through the two centimetre-thick frosting – frosting of such sickly sweetness that surely even the most sugar-crazed hummingbird would be repulsed. The sponge underneath crumbled shamelessly over my lap.

They say “life’s too short to frost a cupcake”. I don’t know about that, but my life will never be so long that I will want to eat another one.


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