I did it for the anthropology. It was possibly the bougiest thing that I have ever done. Ever since I had arrived in the UK, I had always wanted to go to an afternoon tea place, but I had never been able to justify to myself such an extravagant outing with such little value. But, seeing as my days in London were numbered, I felt that I would regret it if I never went had afternoon tea before I had left. I searched “cheap afternoon teas” on Google, as if that is not an oxymoron in itself, and I found it. I had the afternoon tea that I had been looking forwards to.

It was £9. In my head, I justified it as: at least, it’s not one of the >£20 varieties. But, even for £9, such a large sum of money spent on tea and pastries was not worth it, even for the anthropology.

I walked past the destination for my afternoon from my trek from the Greenwich Observatory to the Barbican Center. I did not walk past the Prime Meridian because I could not find it. I did not enter the actual observatory either because I felt as if that would just be spending money for the sake of spending money; the University of Greenwich was pretty enough, and the Barbican Center was also pretty enough. These two sights would define the long walk that would suppose to define my final full day in London. I had my camera ready. I hyped up this moment from the previous night. All I wanted was to walk across London have afternoon tea before I can never have afternoon tea, nor will I ever want to, again.

The afternoon tea place was at the fan museum. It is as it sounds; the fan museum is a museum dedicated to the history of fans. I was not interested in the history of fans, so I did not actually enter the museum. The space where the afternoon tea was sold was located in the back of the museum, next to the botanical garden. It was quite an obscure location, and I am surprised that anyone had bothered to mention it at all.

The room had been quite stuffy when I had entered. Despite the room having one window cracked open, the tepid ambiance seemed to almost swelter on its own. The curtains drizzled and melted as if it were that painting by Salvador Dali. There were two tables already occupied, each by two people. On one table, there were two men who sat in silence with each other. One of them was checking their phone; the other was looking out the window. On another table, there were two girls intensely discussing in what I thought to be German. The people were having conversations, but it also seemed as if there weren’t having a conversation. They were just there… before they were having a “conversation”.

I ordered the afternoon tea, which was the only afternoon tea option from the menu of afternoon tea. It came with Earl Grey tea, a lemon drizzle, a scone with jam and butter, and a Victorian sponge cake that tasted more like a carrot cake. In theory, I expected that it would be this many carbs, but it never actually dawned to me until then that I would be actually eating this many carbs in such a short sitting. I could almost feel the bloatedness from my future self. Similar to string theory, it felt as if the future and present were simultaneously affecting each other. Before, the thought of afternoon tea had been such an abstract, mainly with an emphasis on the tea itself. But, it would seem that this is the difference in actuality.

I delicately drank the tea with milk. The scone with jam was… alright, I suppose. It was a literal scone with jam, and I did not expect much. The lemon drizzle had been a little disappointing because the texture of the bread was incredibly dense, which did not pair well with the gelatinous lemon filling. The Victorian sponge cake was probably the most disappointing of the pastries, however. The cream had completely overpowered the more bread-y regions of the cake, and I had to force myself to finish it.

Most foods follow standard utility curves. The marginal utility is positive, but the second order condition is negative. In this case, the marginal utility was not even positive. With every bite, I hated myself more and more for forcing myself to finish the food. I would not be able to justify to myself of spending £9 on some tea and pastries otherwise. By the time I finished, all I wanted to do was to leave and feel the breeze on my face once again. Greenwich market was my next stop.Anything but the Victorian sponge cake. Anything but the Victorian sponge cake. Anything but the Victorian sponge cake.

Anything but the Victorian sponge cake.