• The Tenuous Purpose

    This Blog is built - not, as some might expect, on a flimsy whim but on a strong and single minded principle.

    That principle concerns Biscuits and their position in the world.

    We are really very keen on biscuits.
    As are many of you out there.
    We think.

    We wish to create an archive of Arrowroot, a backlog of Bourbons and a catalogue of Chocolate Fingers. Anybody can contribute an entry - or dispute somebody else's - provided they are not dull.
    Even Americans who perhaps don't really have the heritage of biscuitry that we are fortunate to have here.

    Or maybe they do and we are unaware of the full glory of the cookie.

    We realise that this whole subject is admirably and concisely dealt with by that excellent and unbeatable website A Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down. Our feeble efforts will be as the kicking of a gadfly in the face of their wisdom and experience but we hope that we may have a small contribution to make.

  • Biscuit Encounters on Twitter

  • The Synod of Biscuitry

    James Alexander-Sinclair of Blackpitts
    Gardener, Blogger, Journalist, Lecturer etc, etc. Much of his life is spent loafing around other people’s gardens issuing directives and generally cluttering up the place. However, like the great Mr Kipling, he does (occasionally) make exceptionally good gardens. (Although even Mr Kipling messed up a bit with the Carrot and Walnut Mini Classics.)

    Mark Diacono of Otter Farm
    He does sterling work growing many inappropriate plants in Devon. He dedicates a great deal of time and effort nurturing a plethora of plants that are (mostly) totally unsuited to our climate. His is a life of such extreme eccentric dedication that to start a Blog about Biscuits seems perfectly normal. He treads gently in the footsteps of people like the great William Buckland,a professor of Geology who claimed that he could tell location by tasting the local topsoil.

Office Biscuits

We have a tradition in our office that on Friday afternoons (the busiest afternoon of the week) I buy chocolate biscuits for my colleagues.
I always buy the same biscuits – M&S Extremely Chocolatey Milk Chocolate Rounds. Our local M&S (in Kensington High Street) doesn’t seem to know how to keep track of its stock, so very often they run out of the Milk Chocolate Rounds and I have to buy White Chocolate Rounds instead. But White Chocolate Rounds go down just as well.
I can’t quite remember how this tradition started. I work for The Independent and on Friday we have early deadlines, combined with what is usually the biggest paper of the week.
I seem to recall that on one occasion we were once faced with a massive paper and hardly any staff to cope with it, thanks to a flu epidemic. I bought some chocolate biscuits at lunchtime and handed them round in the hope of boosting morale, and legend has it that we got the paper off on time. It hasn’t worked since, but the custom is now established.
Part of the ritual is that people usually respond with the same phrases, like a sort of liturgy. They often say: “That’s just what I need to get me through the rest of the afternoon.” Lots of them say: “Chocolate biscuits! Yay, it’s Friday night!” Some just say: “Oooh, thank you very much.” And a few say: “No, thanks.”
I’m always very suspicious of people who refuse a chocolate biscuit. I mean, how can they? Are they on a diet? (No, people who are on diets can never resist chocolate biscuits. I speak from experience.)
Are they trying to prove that they are some sort of Ubermensch, capable of resisting the quotidian temptations to which us lowlier mortals fall prey?
I always feel there is some moral dimension to these abnegations; that these colleagues have looked iniquity in the eye and said: “Retro me, Satanas.” Or, rather, retro me, M&S.
However, even the refuseniks have their own rituals. One colleague, Ian, never takes a biscuit, but is most offended if the opportunity to do so is not forthcoming. Every week I solemnly offer him one and he just as solemnly turns it down. Another colleague, Julian, always smiles or laughs, and shakes his head.
Yet another colleague, on the picture desk, looks disapprovingly at the Milk Chocolate Rounds but will greet a White Chocolate Round with a cry of delight. I’ve never worked that one out.
There is a set time for the biscuit ritual too. They cannot be distributed before 5pm, as this is when the night editor starts work. The night editor is the person who steers the paper on through the evening, like a lonely helmsman on a stormy sea. He (it usually is a he, unless I’m doing it) is most certainly in need of a chocolate biscuit. Probably two or three.

Victoria Summerley

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7 Responses

  1. Funny about your colleague who won’t take a biscuit, but is offended if you don’t offer!

    I had a colleague once who when offered a hot drink would solemnly say: “No thank you. I never drink tea or coffee.”

    If you ever failed to ask him when doing a round, he would (while you were in the kitchen brewing up) complain to your colleagues.

    And then the deptuty editor would take you quietly to one side and say: “He doesn’t drink tea or coffee, but he does like to be asked.”

  2. You are the coal shoveler, among other things, of your train, Victoria. You provide fuel in a very sweet way. Chocolate is a magical substance, even when white. As for the non eating workmate, no one likes to feel slighted or left out of things.

  3. So true, a good chocolate biscuit often turns the day around.

  4. I was going to tell you the tale of the ‘bottomless tea time assortment tin’ because this reminded me of it, but then realised it should be a tale in its own right.

  5. I am not that keen on chocolate biscuits (although i love chocolate bars) and I will often say no. Does this make me deranged?

  6. This isn’t the blog for me – I’m ill for three days if I eat wheat – and I can’t eat chocolate either. So biscuits are no longer food for me . . . they are as much food as wooden chairs are. It’s a hard life!

    But . . . in my biscuit eating (chocolate eating) days, I might have joined your ‘Oooh! White chocolate’ colleague. Decades of boycotting Nestle because of its baby milk sales techniques in developing countries left me white-chocolate-depleted. It’s a bit like Smarties – there are sweets which look like Smarties but they aren’t the same as ‘real’ Smarties. Presented with a biscuit with thick white chocolate which could be nibbled off without political guilt became a kind of dream-like special event and I’d work my way round with the strains of ‘The Milky Bar Kid’ sounding like angel-song in my ears.

    Esther

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