The Museum of Everything Cafe, London

Penelope & Lauren

Who did I take for cake? Lauren, Stylist/Designer (above right) and Penelope Stardust, Pony (above left)

What did we talk about? Leopards, creepers, rings that turn your fingers green, sandwiches, sinuses, girls with willies a la Henry Darger

The damage: £2 donation

I’ve got a bone to pick with Donald Trump who once remarked ‘if you’re going to be thinking anyway, you might as well think big’. Having visited the Museum of Everything’s café where modesty prevails with super endearing results, I am inclined to disagree. Donny T may be rolling in the mega monies and possess the most mesmorising bouffant since Diana Ross (its like mohair I tell you, MOHAIR) but I’m putting my foot down. Staunchly. Simple pleasures are simply not to be sniffed at.

On the menu at this little café, situated with the museum in an old dairy, there is tea and toast and jam and hot chocolate and juice and biscuits and… that’s it. And that is all that there needs to be. Just as not every ride needs pimping, neither does every afternoon tea.

Free of the trappings of too-much-choice-itis, Lauren and I are equipped with biscuits and tea as quickly as you can say whippersnapper. The two trestle tables are heaving, so having fed our donations to the jar, we head to a row of fold-up chairs and appoint one of the malleable chaps as our table.

To the untrained eye, our spread may not look much. This eye might see five shop-brought biscuits and two cups of tea you wouldn’t get much more of a slurp out of, served on mismatched china that has seen better days. It would consider our ‘table’ shoddy, the peeling paint unforgiveable and the scruffy plastic pony flanking the whole sorry affair, ridonkulous. Look a little closer though, and a microcosm of magic is revealed.

The cups aren’t small, they’re dainty. The china may be mismatched but oh, wouldn’t it be dull if everything matched perfectly ALL of the time? The chipped edges are not shameful but miniscule badges of honour. That chipped plate/dish/bowl/whatever you’ve got sitting in your kitchen cupboard is a SURVIVOR. Yes siree. That’s one hardy little hero you’ve got hanging on in there.

Shop-brought biscuits might not be sophisticated but they are nostalgia in a mouthful, and very few of life’s blows are not softened by them. Heartbreak, homework and hair removal are all infinitely more manageable with a hob nob to hand.

There is no ‘scruffy green pony’ but the great wit and horse about town, Penelope Stardust. This mint coloured minx is supremely well-connected, with hooves in many a pie and is an absolute must for any self-respecting tea party. Yes, particularly when you are 25 years old.

Simple is after all, what you make it and therein kids, lies the beauty. Down with stargazing and complexities, lets marvel in the modest and say hoorah for the humble and (for this week at least) let the bigger picture take care of itself.

Down Penelopes Cakehole


4 responses to “The Museum of Everything Cafe, London

  1. Oh.

    Bravo Jessica


    I had an inkling that rather dashing snap would make an appearance…

    I daren’t show this to lady P..

    There’ll be no living with her after this…


  2. oh darling jess i am usually partial to a posh cake tarted up in all its fine jewels but you have made me spare a moment for the beloved biscuit i have re found my love for a malted milk xx xxx

  3. I second the motion that an afternoon tea can be more magical than any amount of stargazing. Many a storm has been created in a tea cup, and such storms have the benefit of being substantially easier to spot than, say, Canis Major on a dark night.

    I recommend Okokura Kakuzo’s ‘The Book of Tea’ as the most elegant paean to tea: thank your lucky stars Jess that, unlike many an ancient Japanese, we don’t have to ritually prepare for a week before we can take afternoon tea!

    Ginger nuts!

    C xx

  4. Indeed Jess in-bloody-deed.
    For 8 years I suffered the pain of being called Hobnob, (my surname being Hobson), only to realise now that it was actually a compliment, dare I say accolade.

    Hoever, my favourite biscuit of all time is the humble digestive. Two of them, cup a tea and you’re all set.

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