x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Teen Life: One Direction give fans plenty to celebrate

Teens usually shy away from errands but will do anything for their favourite music idols.

Three walls in the room were painted a sunny yellow. There was no paint visible on the fourth, because every inch of it was plastered with beaming faces of members of the band One Direction. Over at my cousin Ebani’s house for the day, I was patiently being given a lesson on the love lives, hobbies, favourite foods and personality characteristics of Messrs Liam, Harry, Zayn, Louis and Niall. Her room is the ultimate shrine to the boys; unlike me, she doesn’t find it disconcerting at all to have 60 pairs of eyes glaring out at her all day long, crinkled up in inextinguishable jolliness.

Her mother has quickly discovered, in the uncanny way mothers do, the most effective way of getting Ebani to do something: threaten to rip off all the posters. Doing extra maths is always preferable to having to suffer seeing Louis Tomlinson’s nose ripped in half.

Maria had her school study desk resplendent with a dozen photos of Harry Styles, presumably to give her strength and motivation to keep working at her desk instead of heading out to the joys of the canteen. Now that their movie, This Is Us, is out, they seem to be every­where. My friend Sara has taken to posting ­videos of them performing You Are So Beautiful on people’s pouting selfies on Facebook, where commenting ungrammatical things like “Your gorgeous!” is obligatory.

Ebani was excited about the movie to say the least; she’d even timed her trip to the cinema to coincide with Liam Payne’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. “I really want to do something special for his birthday,” she told me. “I think we should bake a cake at the very least.” And put up a photo of it on Instagram and hope Liam will come across it somehow, be eternally grateful to us for remembering his birthday and propose?

“That’s the idea,” Ebani said wistfully.

I didn’t mind baking (and eating) a cake at all, though I hadn’t baked for years, having learnt early in life that shop-bought cakes, with their stabilisers and lab-perfected chemicals, usually taste better. Ebani’s cookery skills are much better, thankfully, perfected at Dubai’s School of Culinary and Finishing Arts. She got out the new electric beater, a lethal looking affair with lots of buttons and curly metal bits sticking out. Cracking the eggs, I experimentally flicked the switch to a random setting and stuck it into the mix.

The eggs whipped around the bowl beautifully, forming foam in no time with only the minor disadvantage of spraying everywhere and embedding themselves in Ebani’s hair – I had hastily leapt out of the way. Ebani tentatively suggested that she go wash her hair – “and leave me to mess up the cake? I think not.”

Once the thing was in the oven, it was impossible to resist the temptation to open it every five minutes to “check how it was getting along”. The icing turned out to be horribly crunchy, but the rest of it came out great. If only Liam could eat it, sighed Ebani; his favourite dessert is cake. She’d unsurprisingly looked it up, on the ever-so-reliable WikiAnswers at that.

The writer is an 18-year-old student living in Dubai.