I took one look at the splodge on a platter at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts LA Tea Party and declared to no one in particular (although many heard me) that this was Not Right.
The chefs at the Four Seasons Hotel had arranged a ‘colonial’ take on the traditional English tea, opting to go for the Devonshire version of serving scones: cream first, jam last.
Can’t abide it that way myself.
Left, Olivia Colman, who portrays two British monarchs — Queen Anne in The Favourite and Elizabeth II, and right Joan Collins with Timothee Chalamet
So I consulted with Olivia Colman, who portrays two British monarchs — Queen Anne in The Favourite and Elizabeth II in the third and fourth series of The Crown — and who was last weekend crowned best actress at the Golden Globes.
‘Somebody’s going to be upset with me because Devon and Cornwall, they do it the opposite way round, don’t they?’ Colman said.
‘I always put the jam on first, so that I can have so much cream on the top,’ she told me as her eyes lit not on the scones, but the sandwiches, which she tucked into with relish. ‘If you have cream first, you squash it down with the jam,’ she continued. ‘It’s wrong. Sorry.
‘I reckon the Queen likes it jam first. Well, this Queen does.’
‘The chefs at the Four Seasons Hotel had arranged a ‘colonial’ take on the traditional English tea, opting to go for the Devonshire version of serving scones: cream first, jam last’
Joan Collins, Dame of the British Empire, was busy chatting to heart-throb actor Timothee Chalamet, star of Beautiful Boy, at the tea party so we didn’t get to talking about scones.
But when I bumped into her later, at Craig’s restaurant in Beverly Hills, I asked her view on the great cream and jam debate — which, by the way, was raging away on my Twitter feed with input supporting the jam-first view from Dawn French and John Challis, while others (actor Michael Xavier) insisted it was the other way round.
Collins looked me up and down as if I was bonkers and proclaimed that ‘you put the cream on first, and then the jam. That’s the proper way, isn’t it?’
I politely begged to differ and went off and downed a cranberry juice with a teardrop of orange. No alcohol. My supper of truffled honey chicken with mashed potato and salad arrived, but my appetite was off.
I looked over at Joan, happily eating and laughing with husband Percy and their two guests, unaware of her great cream tea betrayal.
So I say: Queen Olivia rules.
Viggo Mortensen was explaining how the story in the film Green Book still resonates today. It’s about an unusual real-life friendship between his character Tony ‘Lip’ Vallelonga, a nightclub bouncer, and classical pianist Dr Donald Shirley, who hires him to drive to venues in the segregated Deep South in the Sixties.
‘I do think it’s true that the best way to beat ignorance is through direct experience,’ Mortensen said of the film, which is directed by Peter Farrelly. ‘It’s not like Tony becomes Gandhi or something. He’s still himself, but he’s opened his mind a little bit. So has Doc,’
‘I think that Dr Shirley [portrayed by Mahershala Ali] comes to see, with time, that Tony has a code of ethics. He’s a man of his word, and has a measure of discretion.
‘There’s an inherent decency in him,’ the actor, pictured, told me over lunch, hosted by James Bond star Daniel Craig, at Patsy’s Italian restaurant in New York — a fabled eaterie graced by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand.
‘Viggo Mortensen (pictured) was explaining how the story in the film Green Book still resonates today’
I saw Green Book at the Toronto International Film Festival and enjoyed it tremendously. More than that, I was deeply touched by it.
I enjoyed it even more when I caught it a second time on Wednesday — the same day it received several Bafta nominations, including best picture and recognition for Mortensen and Ali.
Last Sunday it won a best picture (musical or comedy) at the Golden Globes. It’s now, clearly, firmly in the Oscar race: against Roma, A Star Is Born, The Favourite and BlacKkKlansman.
The real Tony Lip’s two sons, Frank and Nick Vallelonga, were at the lunch and were moved by the speeches.
Nick said he sheds tears every time he sees Linda Cardellini, who portrays their mother Dolores. Ms Cardellini was seated next to him, so he was in floods most of the time.
It was great, too, to hear testimony about Dr Shirley — both he and Tony died in 2013, within months of each other — from the musician’s friends and fellow professionals.
Michiel Kappeyne, Dr Shirley’s executor, said that the doctor was ‘a gift to the world’ and described Green Book as ‘a gift to his legacy’.
I’d say that goes for both men.
The film opens in the UK on February 1.