Song of a Baker

If I liked fishing… I would go fishing. I’d sit in my boat with a line in, watching insects dance on the water surface and watch with arched eyebrows fishes avoiding my hook. I’d sit there all day and remember a story I was told long ago when I didn’t understand the allegory. I’ll try and retrace it now, today. Try to imagine you’re fishing in a warm dusk and the day is beginning to wan. Throw one last cast out into the great lake.

In a village long ago, there was a Baker. He was the only Baker in that village for a while and because the village was quite small and the need for bread was great, he prospered. He realised he was able to make money and cut costs by reducing the quality of his bread. The greedy baker  over time, used less flour and put more chalk in and to keep it moist he  would just  blend in more water.

As the population of the village grew, another baker across the town opened its doors and to undercut his rival he ran at a loss to start with by producing better bread at the same price. Unfortunately the customers were loyal to the first baker and not enough people tried his bread so in an attempt to keep his business afloat he began to swap some flour for sawdust and  charge  less . Because he was appearing to be better value than the old Baker, over time, more and more people came to the new bakers door. In order to keep his shop successful, the old baker diversified into making flatbreads as he had worked out they were very popular and cheap to make. Because of this he regained some of his custom. At  the same time a third baker opened his door offering flatbread and pastry. Because he was fresh and new he took lots of customers from both of the other bakers and people flocked to his door. The first two Bakers started to become very poor and went to the town elders about their problem.

“ I was the first here the other two should close, they have taken my business” said the first baker the second baker said, “ I sell better quality products, you should close him down, he’s killing people” The third Baker said in his defence “ the people have chosen me”

The town elders being fair minded men, ordered that the tax collector go from door to door to find out where people bought their bread and decreed that whoever was most popular would bake for the whole town.

At the 1st day of harvest the tax collectors reported in that 115 men like the oldest baker and 92 like the second baker and 114 like the newest Baker.  The Elders stated that the first baker should bake for the whole town. And the other two bakers were outraged “ but most of the town think he is a terrible baker”

“that is not the case” said the elder” he is the most popular in the town.”

And so, because he now had a monopoly, the old baker became very powerful and was able to make powerful friends. And because the wealthy lords in the town paid him the most money he gave them the best breads and pastry’s while the majority of the town who were considerably less well off could only buy the bread with sawdust and chalk. A few short years later,, the towns population had dwindled as they had nothing to trade and no staple food. The elders of the town were now very old , but because they were eating good bread they were still deciding the laws of the town. One day after a very long winter, a town meeting was called. Nobody sat in that hall for the Baker and the town elders. Every last man, woman and child that graced that town, had fallen to meet their maker.

And so, I take the line from the water having spent the day fishing  and not catching a thing. And reach for my oars to row back to the shore. I realise, that my oars have slipped in whilst I had a sleep in the afternoon and I suddenly realise the lengthy weeds and deathly currents in the lake. I am a mile for shore I put my hand in and feel the lakes  toxicity burning my skin………..should I give it a go?


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