Another day, another letter. Having managed to distract the Dear Lady Wife from another riveting episode of Judge Judy, we have our daily conversation regarding the subject matter for todays' post.
DLW: What letter is it today?
Moi: The letter T.
DLW: You should write about tea.
Moi: I know, the letter T, that is what I am going to write about. I just told you that. But what exactly?
DLW: TEA! As in a cup of tea and you can make me one while you're up.
So, here I am writing about tea, after visiting the kettle to make some.
Although tea has been around for a long time, (evidence of tea consumption appears in Chinese history dating back to 10000 BC) it didn't find itself introduced into Britain until 1660. The great unwashed didn't take tea to their collective hearts until the middle of the 19th Century.
Nowadays, in Britain, tea is the cure for all ills. This may not be medically accurate or legally defensible, but bear with me. I remember, as a small child, falling off my bike in what seemed like spectacular fashion at the time. There was pain and a subsequent trip to the doctor as I had sprained an ankle. At the time of the accident, though, there was a cup of tea (with an extra sugar to help with the shock.) I have no idea whether it helped or not but it was very sweet. The subsequent trip to the doctor did not occur until it was quite clear that several gallons of tea were having no effect on the golf-ball sized lump that was emerging from the side of my ankle.
The Dear Lady Wife hails from the North of the country, where the healing effects of a cup of tea in the most inappropriate of circumstances is common-place. If neighbors come round for a chat and deliver some bomb shell along the lines of "My wife, Sheila, can't make it today, on account of being diagnosed with cancer of the thumb." The host would inevitably reply, "hmmm, would you like a cup of tea?"
No scenario, no matter how shocking, can deflect the believe that a cup of tea will make it all better. "My wife, Sheila, can't make it today as she is a he called Charles and has eloped with the milkman." There may be some pursing of lips from the host. "You'll be needing a nice cup of tea, then."
"My wife, Sheila, died as a result of a tea overdose yesterday. It is a rare disorder, which I have also been diagnosed with. Just one cup of tea can trigger a catastrophic seizure." Lip pursing. "Just one sugar then?" Like I said, nothing can deflect the tea offering reflex.
In the British workplace along with tea, came the tea lady. A fantastic invention which, unfortunately, has largely died out. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon a trolley would be pushed around the workplace, delivering tea, with cakes if you were lucky.
|All tea ladies looked just like this, allegedly.|
The spirit of the tea-lady lives on in Father Ted, in the shape of Mrs Doyle. She is the housekeeper who will not take no for an answer when it comes to tea and cake, as this snippet attests.
Included in the snippet above are these immortal lines:
Mrs Doyle: Now, what would you say to a nice cup of tea, Father?
Father Jack: Feck off, cup!
There is no doubt the Mrs Doyle character embodies the British relationship with the cup of tea. In the world of Mrs Doyle, everyone needs a cup of tea, all of the time, as demonstrated below:
Mrs. Doyle: There's always time for a nice cup of tea. Sure, didn't the Lord himself pause for a nice cup of tea before giving himself up for the world.
Father Ted Crilly: No, he didn't, Mrs Doyle!
Mrs. Doyle: Well, whatever the equivalent they had for tea in those days, cake or something. And speaking of cake, I have cake!
[She holds up a cupcake]
Father Ted Crilly: No, thanks, Mrs. Doyle.
Mrs. Doyle: Are you sure, Father? There's cocaine in it!
Father Ted Crilly: WHAT?
Mrs. Doyle: Oh, no, not cocaine. God, what am I on about? No, what d'you call them. Raisins.
It's getting late and I am starting to get a little worried that a number of my recent posts end up talking about some television program or another. Perhaps I should have posted about television, an opportunity missed.
Tomorrow, Dear Reader, I will be undulating around the letter U.