“HAVE you put a doughnut on the front door?”
I was sure I had never been asked that question before at 9pm on a Friday. I have an atrocious memory, but even I would remember that.
I have been asked a lot of questions in my 40 years, and admittedly most of these have been to ascertain if I have done something or other.
Normally I am forced to answer with a degree of obfuscation, because I haven't carried out the action in question, and am keenly, if belatedly, aware that I should have done. But in this case I was able to answer positively, albeit negatively.
“No,” I replied. “Is there a doughnut on the front door?”
My wife nodded, and I walked into the hallway and opened the door.
There it was, impaled on the cool German-designed metal handle, illuminated by the security light, the world's campest doughnut.
Fat and swollen, with pink icing and covered in hundreds and thousands, this was a doughnut which would never have felt the need to have to come out. “We always knew,” its proud parents would have confided, at the ceremony celebrating its civil partnership with a Gregg's yum-yum.
I can't pretend I wasn't briefly tempted by it. I knew it couldn't have been there long. I'd only been out to the bin 10 minutes before and I am confident I would have noticed it. As I hope I have established, this was not a discreet doughnut.
But there was no way I could eat it. I could not be sure of the motive of the person or persons who placed the deep-fried delight on it.
I imagined the headline: “Man With Glasses Poisoned To Death By Front-door Doughnut.” That old chestnut.
I pulled it off and dropped it in the bin, just to be on the safe side, kept reminding myself not to lick the icing from my finger, and went into the kitchen to wash my hands. “You'll have to see if there are any other houses with doughnuts on the front door,” I was informed.
This truly was a day of precedents. Not only had I been the unwilling recipient of a front-door doughnut, but now I was having to wander up and down my lamp-lit road, scrutinising the front doors of my neighbours for doughnuts. I am not sure how I would have explained myself if called upon to do so.
I pondered more upon the motives of the person responsible and came up with three possible explanations.
The first was that a passer-by who had never before eaten a doughnut had taken the plunge and bought one. And then he or she had looked at that doughnut, with its pink icing and hundreds and thousands, and thought: “I am running before I can walk. I should have gone for a sugar-coated or glazed doughnut. Essentially, this is too much doughnut for my first experience.
“What to do? I cannot just drop it. And I do not want anybody to see me with this very visible hoop-shaped yeast-based treat. Ooh, look at that gleaming metal door handle illuminated by a security light. Could that be Ger... Ah, a solution suggests itself...”
The second explanation is that the doughnut was an art installation and part of the Liverpool Biennial. I'm not sure what the message of the doughnut on the door would be, but it would probably be very profound or a bit suggestive. I don't know, I am not that funny-looking man who explains the arts five minutes before the end of the news.
The third explanation is that somehow I had offended the local baking mafia and they wanted to send me a message. Maybe I had been too disparaging of some of the entries on the Great British Bake-Off. Paul Hollywood gets this all the time, I expect.
If that is the case, and the perpetrator is reading this, you ought to know that I am one-sixteenth Sicilian, and this is a vendetta now. If
I find out who you are, you're going to wake up one morning to find a custard tart nailed to your shed.