The Biscuit Tormentor

My mother usually ended her supermarket shopping trips with a tea break at the supermarket’s café.

She would park her trolley after removing her newspaper and digestive biscuits. On ordering a cup of tea, she’d relax with the crossword, dunking her biscuits in her tea.

On this particular day, a lady slipped into the booth to share the table. My mother glanced up and gave an acquiescent nod to indicate that the seat was not taken. Mother was engrossed in her crossword and the teacups arrived.

She then became aware that the woman opposite had taken a biscuit and was dunking! So she cleared her throat, and made something of a display of taking the next biscuit and dunking. That ought to do the trick she thought.

Mother was astonished to notice that the woman had the bare-faced cheek to reach into the pack and remove another digestive!

Well, this just won’t do, mother thought. She moved the packet from the centre of the table into her side, and she took her next biscuit while tutting and slightly shaking her head.

This woman paused in her reading of her paper, looked up at mother – and pulled the pack back to the centre of the table, removed another one, and dunked!

Well, that was that! Mother couldn’t concentrate on her crossword anymore. She finished her tea, got up with an “how dare she” attitude, and left, thinking that this woman was welcome to the rest of the pack.


She put her groceries in the car, returned the trolley, and drove home in a fluster.

When she arrived, she sat for a minute in the car, trying to calm down.

“What is the world coming to?” she wondered.

After a deep breath, she composed herself and took in the grocery bags, and as she started putting the things away, she came across her packet of digestives, and the sudden, horrifying realisation that it was she who was scoffing that woman’s biscuits, and not the other way around. She was mortified with shame and embarrassment; what must that poor woman have thought of her as she sat opposite, openly stealing her biscuits from her, right in front of her face?


2 thoughts on “The Biscuit Tormentor

  1. This is very strange indeed. Today I came across an online article: In this, and in the video from YouTube (, Douglas Adams claims this story as happening to him at a railway station years before (so possibly 1970s or maybe earlier?). The earliest memory I have of it being told as happening to my mum was in a hilarious public speech during a double wedding in Glasgow in 1969 (to my mother’s embarrassment). It struck me then as a good story, and I told it to my teacher at primary school, and have been telling it ever since. It is part of my family lore, I have heard it countless times at Christenings, Weddings and even funerals. It doesn’t really change, it’s a verbal tradition, and I even quoted it in an Open University coursework essay in 1981 as an example of continuing oral traditions, and how they can actually pass on stories that do not change radically (like Chinese Whispers) with each telling. Adams mentions that he wanted to get it into print to claim it properly as his before it got published by someone else! This is just too weird for me!


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