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The noble and delicate art of having your cake (and a cuppa) and eating it too

James Bond can do it, and so can King Charles. No wonder Phil Brown is so committed to having his “elevenses”.

Jan 29, 2024, updated Jan 29, 2024
Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have afternoon tea on the terrace during a visit to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, central London, Wednesday June 23, 2021. (Tim Whitby/Pool via AP)

Britain's Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall have afternoon tea on the terrace during a visit to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, central London, Wednesday June 23, 2021. (Tim Whitby/Pool via AP)

I’m partial to a spot of morning tea. And afternoon tea too. In fact, I insist on it. I have been known to consent to interviews around the middle of the morning or afternoon contingent on being served a cuppa and a biscuit or cake. People think I’m joking but I’m deadly serious.

The origins of all this go back to my three years in Central Queensland I think, when I was spoiled rotten by the CWA ladies. Comedian Mandy Nolan, a big fan of the CWA has a show called Country Witches Association (CWA) and when I interviewed her, she praised the real CWA and described them as “first responders with cake”. And scones!

I agree wholeheartedly. In my twenties with the fridge at home mostly empty and poor cooking skills I relied on feeds from the CWA ladies to get me through some days.

When I lived in Monto for a year, they would set up a stall outside the newspaper offices which was handy. The highlight of my year in Monto was covering the CWA Jubilee at Mulgildie (a village just nearby) which was the most sumptuous spread I have ever encountered – scones, pikelets, sandwiches, sponge cake. Yum.

I became very partial to my morning tea and afternoon tea and have continued the habit ever since.

When I worked at The Daily Sun in Fortitude Valley in the late 1980s, I would disappear from the office later in the morning and repair to the Cosmopolitan café nearby for my elevenses (a lovely English term for tea or coffee and a light snack) which consisted at that stage of my life of espresso, baklava and a cigarette. Well, it was the 80s.

Nowadays, working from home, I take tea around 10.30 accompanied by two digestive biscuits which is quite conservative I agree. But around 3pm, sometimes 3.30pm, I must have cake. Madeira, banana cake, cheesecake, fruitcake, apple tea cake … any kind of cake really.

Which may be why I have, for the first time in my life, a tummy. It’s only a small tummy but it’s there.

I remember interviewing Daniel Craig many years ago when he was first playing James Bond. I commented on his physique and his impressive six-pack and he said (I will never forget it):

“Well, I don’t eat cream cake.” Funny the things you recall.

Of course, I responded with “I do” and he seemed amused.

So, if I keep eating cake, I won’t get to have a physique like Daniel Craig. Mind you that was never going to happen anyway so I won’t be cutting out my sweet treats anytime soon.

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