Mother's Day is here, but must they be subjected to afternoon tea? - Gaby Soutar

It’s the worst meal of all.

Since I’m child-free, I’ve never experienced the biological urge to take afternoon tea.

I’m sure that, shortly after the postpartum surge of oxytocin, new mothers are hit with the craving.

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The umbilical cord hasn’t even been cut and they immediately want a scone with jam, then cream. Not the other way round. The midwives quickly run off to butter the cucumber sandwiches and cut the crusts off.

Pic: Getty ImagesPic: Getty Images
Pic: Getty Images
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I’m wondering about this, as they say that mothers are supposed to go completely wild for afternoon tea.

That’s according to the people - whoever they are - behind Mother’s Day, which is today, in case you’d forgotten and are now grounded or written out of the will.

This year, as with all others since I became a journalist, I’ve been bombarded with press releases telling me about forthcoming afternoon teas.

I feel sad that mothers are rewarded for all their devotion and hard work with the worst designed meal of all time.

Apologies to the Duchess of Bedford, who invented it back in 1840, but it was not a good idea.

The timing means you turn up starving, but are usually replete after choking down the dry and bulky selection of white bread sandwiches. Then you have to stuff in a gluten marathon of 47 cakes, twee macarons and head-sized scones, all washed down with tea, which is ironically an appetite suppressant.

The worst afternoon tea I ever sat through was at a very posh London hotel, where each cake was teamed with a shot of espresso.

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Along with chain smoking cigarettes, caffeine is the 90s supermodel dieting secret. My hunger was obliterated. The succession of cakes then held as much appeal as if they were the sugared almonds in the famous Kristen Wiig wedding dress shop scene from the film Bridesmaids.

I can’t help but think that afternoon tea in general, which is usually about £50 a pop, feels like a very expensive and unnecessary trial.

My own mum wouldn’t say no, though she isn’t much of a fan. She doesn’t have a particularly sweet tooth, and would rather have a curry, Cornish pasty or a steak.

I don’t think she’s particularly unusual. However, I suppose the afternoon tea thing is part of the casual gendering of foodstuffs, which has annoyed me ever since Simon Rimmer wrote the cookbook, Men Love Pies, Girls Like Hummus.

I recently interviewed a cheese expert. He was a very interesting man, but, when describing how to create the perfect cheeseboard, he suggested getting something smelly, exciting and challenging for your uncle and, for your granny or auntie (and mum too, I suppose), something non-offensive and bland.

A nice bit of boring cheddar. It’s all very Victorian, to assume that women’s delicate sensibilities might be offended by a particularly honking slab of ripe epoisses.

Quite the contrary, in most cases.

So, before you whisk your mum out for the cliche that is afternoon tea, perhaps ask her if she’d prefer an IJ Mellis gift voucher, a steak, curry, whisky or pie.

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