I’m trying to write this offering in the front room of my buddy Alan’s Bedfordshire home. With the background chatter of Alan and another mate Bill, I’m finding it hard to focus on the literary job in hand.

Concentration levels that’ve diminished further when during my inadvertent eavesdropping I heard a stunning revelation that Bill recently baked an apple crumble.

That’ll seem like no big deal to people who don’t know my Sunderland-based pal. However, anyone lucky enough to have made the acquaintance of the amiable Mackem bloke it’ll be a disclosure that will shake them to the very core.

Having never cooked/baked a meal in his six decades on this dysfunctional planet, Bill’s confession is akin to me revealing I’d fitting a kitchen***. Something, incidentally, that my pal has undertaken on more than one occasion.

*** – I’m ok at some DIY jobs but I’d never take on a major project like a full kitchen or bathroom renovation.

On hearing this news Alan was so surprised he responded “I’m surprised!” Not the most insightful or interested comment from my Dunstable-based friend, but he’s never been the most demonstrative of men.

Anyhow, regardless of Alan and my amazement, last week keen car mechanic Bill trod the path of culinary creation for the first time. His inaugural attempt bringing with it new life aspirations of being in a position to release a cook book in time for next Christmas. Not to mention a cheeky appearance in the next series of Channel 4’s Great British Bake-Off.

Hearing the affable Mackem’s cooking yarn brought forward visions of him kitchen ‘in situ’, donning oil spattered mechanics overalls, white chefs hat and British Coal donkey jacket. Bill’s task the stewing of apples grown on his own trees, in conjunction with vigourlessly stirring crumble mix with his favourite spark plug ratchet.

So proud was Bill of his exploits at preparing the comfort food he decided to contentedly sit watching it bake/cook in the oven. All I can assume is that there wasn’t much on the telly that day…… Personally speaking it’s not something I’ll be looking out for on Catchup TV.

Apparently, the end product was “pleasantly edible”. With the flavour surprisingly not impacted by the Swarfega infusion courtesy of the spark plug ratchet.

Bill’s culinary effort certainly sounds more appealing than the bacon sandwiches Alan cooked this morning for Bill and my breakfast. The paucity of the butty’s filling akin to the diminutive breakfast bap’s lack of bread.

On handing me my first meal of the day Alan asked “Would you like tomato ketchup on your bacon?” It probably would have been more apt to have enquired “Do you want some bacon with your tomato ketchup?”

Of course I’m only kidding. I’m fully appreciative of the splendid hospitality my Dunstable-based buddy and his wife Jayne. That being said, next time I’ll go with the continental breakfast option…… That’s if I’m ever asked back!