LAUREN BRAVO Sweet treat of friendship

I’VE never read How to Win Friends and Influence People, but now I never need to, because I have discovered the answer. Give them free pudding.

Remember at school how there was always one kid who would bring in home-made cakes on their birthdays?

And it didn’t matter if they were the sniveliest, greasiest, most-likely-to-wee-themselves-on-a-field-trip kid in the school – for that day, bearing baked goods, they were king.

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Now move the scenario on 15 years, put it in an office setting, and imagine you have just been sent eight boxes of microwavable syrup sponge puddings.

You are still king, and this time no one’s going to make you do PE in your pants.

To start at the very beginning, I wrote a feature last week on gourmet microwave food.

As is standard practice before plugging products to the masses, I called in samples of each prospective item.

I won’t deny this is, with the exception of a recent morning spent tasting 12 different types of marmalade, the best bit of my job as an online food journalist.

It compensates for all the time I spend hitting my computer with a shoe.

But normally, when you call in “a sample”, you get a sample.

Or two, or maybe six. Six would be a jackpot day.

So you can imagine my feeling when I got to work last week and found eight boxes of pudding piled up by my desk.

That’s six puddings per box, meaning 48 puddings.

Meaning enough pudding to form a rudimentary bed of pudding that could support the weight of a grown adult, before they proceeded to eat their way through the pudding pillows.

That’s a lot of pudding.

And as I quickly discovered, pudding is power.

I’m not suggesting that behind every great man there is a great big pile of sticky toffee, but it’s certainly a campaign strategy to consider.

Sending a company-wide email declaring, “There is a ridiculous amount of pudding in reception – please take it away before I collapse in a syrup coma”, I got the biggest do-gooding rush I’ve had since the Great Charity Read-athon of ’99.

I was making people happy.

I was already picturing my leaving card, in years to come – a picture of me astride an enormous chocolate sponge, like Boudicca riding into battle in her chariot.

“So long, and thanks for all the pudding,” it would say.

Pudding distributed, bellies full, colleagues happy, I thought it was the end of the story.

Until I got to work the next day and found another box of puddings waiting on my desk.

If you’ve ever wondered how much pudding is too much pudding the answer is: nine boxes.

I started to worry I might be part of a pudding conspiracy.

Were they black market puddings? Was I a pudding mule?

Then one more box arrived.

Suddenly I was scared. It was puddingeddon.

It was like the bit in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone where the Dursleys can’t stop the letters from Hogwarts arriving.

I’ve spent the rest of the week looking anxiously over my shoulder.

I’ve eaten pudding every day for the last five, in a desperate bid to rid the pudding from my life.