There are few things as stressful as the notorious fund-raising Class Teas.
The setting up, the anticipation of the hungry hordes once the school bell tolls, and then the mad panic of exchanging cupcakes for cash as a hundred tiny hands thrust their 5ps and 10ps in your direction.
What just about makes it bearable is the element of competition that adds spice to the occasion.
There are three categories of parents (OK, let's stop with the PC-nonsense: they're all mums except for Yours Truly).
The first is the Lazy Buy It Low, Sell It High Mum, who gets packets of crisps, biscuits and marshmallow teacakes from the supermarket, then flogs them individually. Cheap, cheat – but effective.
The second is the Pass It Off As Mine Mum. Similar to Lazy, but this mum buys chocolate brownies, sticks a jelly snake or Dolly Mixtures on top of them and pretends she's Nigella Lawson.
Then there's the Look At Me Control Freak Perfectionist Who Pretends To Be 'Aw Shucks' Humble.
This mum buys all the ingredients, researches the best recipes, and bakes in stages over a couple of days, and then turns up at school expecting a fanfare of trumpets, and then feigns bashfulness when someone compliments her on her magnificent effort.
Let me correct that: this DAD does all of these things – for Look At Me Control Freak is ME! Pathetic, isn't it?
I blame being made redundant. Before my wife and I swapped roles and I became a full-time house dad to our three children, I worked in a very competitive office where my colleagues and I would try to outdo each other.
Now the only thing I compete with is the ironing pile, so any opportunity I get to stretch my competitive streak, I grasp with both hands.
But when I walked through the door to set up Class Tea this week, you'd think I'd re-invented the wheel. "Oh my goodness, what an am-aaaaa-zing idea," said one mum, through gritted teeth.
Another looked at the limp jelly snake on top of her brownie and grimaced.
Were they worth the effort? Oh yes – and some!
All 16 went in less time than it takes Usain Bolt to get off the starting blocks. And when the mums patronisingly patted me on the back and said: "Well done you?" I blushed like girl and replied: "Aw shucks, it was nothing."
Here's the recipe if you'd like to shame the competitive mothers in your circle.
Makes 16 cupcakes
175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
175g self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs.
1. Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and baking powder. Add the eggs and beat until smooth.
2. Spoon into cupcake cases. Bake in oven at 170C (160C for fan ovens)/Gas 3 for 25-30 mins. Check on the cakes after 20 mins and take out when springy to the touch.
3. When cool, decorate with butter cream icing, coloured red and blue.
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