And always the people who were close by ask themselves: should we have known? Were there signs? But there are no answers. No rhyme or reason. Just shock, sadness, and everywhere a gnawing emptiness, a void, except in that bin full of ice cream.
Dessert week began, in those crazy, carefree hours before The Meltdown, with a signature challenge demanding eight self-saucing puddings. Sponge had to contain, or end up atop, sauce. The early indications weren't good. Nancy admitted that in ten attempts, her sauce had stayed within acceptable limits only once. Luis was poaching pears and promising to re-use the poach-water, which had even novice bakers at home wondering aloud whether that wouldn't be not so much a sauce as some hot fruity water.
Iain was making lime and raspberry fondants and was decorating them with mint leaves, intricately painted with chocolate. "Have you got time for that?" asked Paul Hollywood, innocent words that will haunt him for all eternity.
Norman's rustic aesthetic was again shot down: his sticky puddings had delicious toffee goodness lurking, but were served in gravy boats with cocoa spattered hither and yon. "I just don't think it looks very attractive," said Paul, the big fop. Norman stared at him, saving his comeback for later on, outside the tent. "Sticky toffee pudding's not meant to look beautiful. It's a bit like some people: they're nice-looking on the outside, but they're rotten in the middle. My puddings are the opposite of that." Fine, but unless there's a lightly salted porridge week soon, Norman is going to lose this war.
Luis had indeed served up pears in their own thin liquids, but the greatest sauce disaster belonged to Martha. Her peanut butter ooze left Paul speechless, since he had Martha's sauce clinging to his palate. Mary Berry stepped in and for a split-second looked like she was really going to put the boot in. "In your f... avour, there looks [to be] a lot of sauce..."
There was praise for Richard (red sauce) and Kate (brown sauce), but not Chetna (no sauce at all), with Diana earning the greatest acclaim. It seems Diana may have been psyching out the opposition with her floral bluster and talk of being merely a home baker. Her orange and lemon curd teacups were perfect. "You never know with those puddings what on Earth's going to be inside," she lied, having made them herself.
Iain's fondants were fine. They were fine.