Nuala McCann: Has Great British Bake Off gone stale?
SO farewell the year of the banana bread - no, it does not grow on you.
But after a year of baking, I wasn't sure if I could be bothered with the Great British Bake Off. Bananas are not a favourite about here. In the good old days when we all left the house to go to work, I always grabbed one on the way out the door.
Invariably it came home again in my bag.
"Is that your travelling banana?" the men of the house would say.
Sometimes, I'd forget.
There is nothing like a black shrivelled corpse of a banana at the bottom of your bag to put you off banana bread. Even the cloud of fruit flies zzzz-ed off in a furious cloud.
So the world has shifted slightly and people return to a little more of what feels like normal.
Years ago, your mother would give you a douse of holy water on your way out the door... now you dip your hand in the sanitiser.
Then, your mother would have shouted: "Have you got your scarf and gloves?"
Now, you grab your mask and I shall never laugh at Asian people wearing their masks in airports ever, ever again.
It's wonderful to be out and about, even a little.
But as the dark evenings creep in, we're turning to telly.
It's the usual diet of dark Nordic thrillers. Manhunt is worth a watch if you get the chance.
Flicking through endless programmes, I'm wondering might Bake Off have gone stale?
Or might the horrible débâcle aka bingate still rankle?
It involved a man from here - Iain Watters - who ditched his showstopper Alaska in the bin because the ice cream melted. The programme appeared to show that a fellow baker had removed his creation from the fridge and she ended up getting a mauling on Twitter. He stood up for her.
It was a bad week for cake.
The truth is that GBBO is not really about the baking, it's an addiction to shock horror disasters.
It's when you see the delicate sketch of a baker's aspirations and snort with laughter when the reality cake appears – more Ugly Sister than Cinderella.
There's a certain schadenfreude in witnessing others making a hames of things.
It's also the cult of personality.
Mary Berry will forever be the kindly ghost hovering in the background.
Her baking bible is my baking bible. When it comes to making cakes, she's as dependable as prunes.
Nobody holds a candle to Mary.
This year's set of bakers are charming as ever.
There's Jurgen the German IT specialist who knows just the right balance for a Black Forest cake.
He has a twinkle in his eye and pursues perfection. He brought in a spanner to help with one of the tasks. When he won baker of the week, he was very excited and rang home... nobody answered. Ouch that's real life.
Giuseppe, the Italian engineer, also has a knack with the slide rule. I suppose he would have to in that career.
His beautiful Jack and the Beanstalk cake defied the laws of gravity. The judges said it was a little dry - how dare they... it was the work of a maestro.
Laid back Jairzeno the Trinidadian was never phased when things went off plan.
Lizzie the Liverpudlian dripped caramel everywhere and George resorted to covering his rolls in melted chocolate when it went wrong - I like the cut of his jib.
Retired nurse Maggie has a look of judge Prue Leith about her– the joke is starting to wear thin.
If I were a betting woman I'd bet on Freya who's just 19 or quadrilingual Crystelle who created a gravity defying bunch of flowers.
I still haven't warmed to Prue Leith and never warmed really to Paul Hollywood. Matt Lucas tries and Noel Fielding is sweet.
But it's not all about that, is it?
It's about the fiascos and the flumps – collapsing cake. It's about the double entendres, the soggy bottoms.
There was that awful moment when a rocking horse cake broke into pieces... tragedy.
You have to admire the bakers.
My flat pavlovas and burnt shortbread travel a short journey from oven to bin viewed by me alone. But to fail in front of millions takes courage.
There will be the inevitable tears – of joy and of sorrow.
For your courage alone, bakers we salute you.