The Rich Tea biscuit, this was not a cookie like anything I knew, this was only a very slight improvement on a piece of cardboard. But British people bought millions of packets of them. Things have changed in the last few decades, we now have brownies and raspberry white chocolate cookies and Krispy Kreme, but the Rich Tea, the Garibaldi, the Nice biscuit linger on. Last night I went to Brighton to see a comedy musical that explains this terribly British phenomenon.
Written twenty years ago by Philip Reeve (who's now my co-author but 20 years ago hadn't any idea I existed) and his friend Brian Mitchell, The Ministry of Biscuits had me gasping with laughter. The story's set in the late 1940's at the government's ministry tasked with the responsibility of ensuring that biscuits in Britain are nice, BUT not so nice that they lead to moral decay. A young employee meets a French secretary who questions these not-very-nice biscuits, and in a flush of love, he tries to impress her with his outrageous new creation, the Triple-Chocolate Gingernut Cream Surprise. Scandal ensues, in a story influenced by Ealing comedy and Orwell's 1984 (but with biscuits).
Of course, I had to wear a special fascinator for the occasion:
Here's Nick Quirke and me in the lobby. (You might recognise Nick's name from Mortal Engines, the books in which Philip has made him a god. People exclaim 'Great Quirke!' and other such things.)
The Ministry of Biscuits is running at the Lantern Theatre until 23 Dec; if there's any way you can get to Brighton, don't miss it! Here's a Brighton newspaper review, details on Philip's blog, and booking details here.
You can follow lots of people involved on Twitter: Philip Reeve @philipreeve1, Brian Mitchell @MitchellnNixon, Amy Sutton @TheLadyAmelia, Murray Simon @Mr_Minty, David Mounfield @Mounders, The Lantern Theatre @lanterntheatreb, the Foundry Group @FoundryGroupUK. Original poster graphic by Philip Reeve: