The prime minister refused to tell members of the MumsNet website what his favourite biscuit was – despite being asked a dozen times.

One week later

Gordon Brown: It is essential that we resolve the biscuit issue and with haste.

Adviser: I just can’t believe that they put you on the spot like that, boss.

Gordon Brown: I had prepared copious notes on fiscal stimuli, mosquito nets and MPs’ expenses. And then they bowled a googly.

Adviser: We need to establish what your favourite biscuit is so you are not caught out next time.

Gordon Brown: I do like a nice Jaffa Cake.

Adviser: That product is not a biscuit but a cake, according to a recent court judgment against HMRC.

Gordon Brown: Those Duchy Original ginger thins are also very moreish.

Adviser: But they are out of the reach of ordinary hard-working British families. We do not want you to look elitist.

Gordon Brown: What about broken biscuits – they’re cheap.

Adviser: Sounds too much like Broken Britain.

Gordon Brown: Do you think there are any votes in shortbread? It’s a solid, reliable – and Scottish.

Lord Mandelson: That’s exactly the problem, prime minister. A British leader must be seen to enjoy a British biscuit – not a divisive north-of-the-border product.

Receptionist: I’ve got someone from the EU on the phone, wanting to talk about the Ukrainian oil pipeline crisis.

Adviser: Later. Can’t you see, the prime minister is busy.

Gordon Brown: I do like a nice Jacob’s Cracker.

Adviser: We can’t have a “Gordon’s Crackers” headline.

Gordon Brown: So here is our dilemma. We need a national biscuit which also reflects my personality.

Silence

Gordon Brown: By which I mean austere, serious and unextravagant.

Lord Mandelson: Bourbon?

Adviser: French

Ed Balls: Garibaldi?

Adviser: Italian

Receptionist: I have a Mr Mahmoud Abbas on the line sir. He says it’s urgent.

Adviser: He’s going to have to wait

Gordon Brown (two hours later): It strikes me that Rich Tea has the common touch. It is a plain biscuit with no bells or whistles. It is the people’s biscuit.

(Brow furrows) Then again, what about fig rolls?

Meanwhile at CCHQ

Steve Hilton: OK Dave, you say you like custard creams because they seem hard but are actually nice and soft in the middle.

David Cameron: I like custard creams because they seem hard but are actually nice and soft in the middle.

Meanwhile at the Lib Dems

Nick Clegg: Biscuits? Don’t tell me about biscuits. I’ve had them all. Vanilla ones, chocolate ones, I’ve enjoyed some really fruity ones. How many? Up to 30 – but not at the same time. We are off the record aren’t we?

Ice cold in Tring

You’ve experienced yoga, meditation and crystals. Whatever next?

How about blasting yourself with super-freezing cold air – at a temperature of -135 degrees – for three minutes?

This is not a joke. The first “Kriotherapy” treatment in the UK is is now on offer at Champneys spa in Tring at the price of £35 for 25 minutes.

“It is very good for exhilarating and rejuvenating and helping a lot of conditions, stress, aches and pains,” says an assistant.

The spa provides you with T-shirt, special pads, clogs, face masks and crop tops to prevent frostbite or whatever. The freezing is followed by a variety of exercises.

I’m reassured by news that kriotherapy has already been tried by celebrities such as Jason Orange from Take That and by former first wife Cherie Blair – who recently joined with other guests in a sing-song of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”.

Even football legend Gazza has tried it out. Although I am not sure that Champneys would agree with the Daily Star’s headline: “Paul Gascoigne is to be locked in a freezer to help him beat his demons.”

The friendly assistant says there is a window if you feel the urge to escape. She adds that the treatment is good for “cellulite, signs of ageing and fertility issues”.

jim.pickard@ft.com

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