There had to be a good solid reason why I have never liked them. This week there was proof positive why. A flapjack is a weapon of mass destruction. Please don’t tell the Americans, otherwise Essex will be invaded by our special-relationship friends across the pond.
What a hullabaloo about nothing. A young – a very young – pupil at a primary school on Canvey Island, probably having a bit of an off-Wednesday, picked up a triangular piece of nutty nothingness. Instead of taking the risk of eating it he hurled it across the room, catching an unlucky schoolmate in the face. Well, the eye actually.
Now in my primary days that would probably have evoked a deal of laughter and a telling-off from a teacher struggling not to smile. But this was in Essex. And Essex is a place where all things are taken seriously. Just ask any Essex girl.
The victim of this flying triangular traybake – all of four inches long (the flapjack, not the wee laddie) – went to the first aid room. An insider leaked to the world’s media that his eye was a bit sore but confirmed, to the relief of all, that his life wasn’t in danger. Reporters were also informed that it was an accident and that no-one got in bother.
Not strictly true I’m afraid. The flapjack suffered – or at least its shape did. Headteacher Gill Thomas – I don’t know if she is an Essex girl or not – took firm and decisive action to ensure no other pupils suffered the indignity or the stinging pain of being hit by a triangular flapjack.
No, it was decreed, there would be no jacks of this particular shape flapping around her school. They were deemed so dangerous that the dinner ladies were instructed in future that they – the flapjacks, not the dinner ladies – should only appear in square or rectangular form.
Now, I was never very clever at maths, but I seem to recall from geometry lessons at Galashiels Academy that a triangle has three corners and that both the square and the rectangle have four. So, accepting that it is the sharp point of this fearsome projectile that causes the damage, surely there is more danger from a four-cornered version than the humble three that caused so much panic in Essex?
A brief hunt through my personal library of cookbooks revealed one unconvincing reason why flapjacks might be considered dangerous when used as a weapon. They often contain nuts, which are full of iron, and a skelp with an iron can be pretty sore.
The seven-year-old flapjack victim might been safer if he’d been at a school in the US. American versions are just thick pancakes so he’d probably have suffered little more than a syrupy slurp to the face. And he’s extremely lucky that rock cakes were off the menu that day – some of those were well named.
I very rarely had school dinners. We lived close enough to go home for mince and tatties. But that didn’t mean that I escaped flying objects.
Remember the days of the blackboard, chalk and the heavy wooden duster? And the upset and angry teacher? The voice was hurled first and if that didn’t work, came the chalk. That was really the warning shot. Then came that wooden duster – and that was when you learned to duck. Flying flapjacks? A piece of cake.