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Sunday, February 2, 2014


Having grown up not enjoying 'a nice cup of tea', (or as it is affectionately referred to as, 'a nice cuppa',) in the 'English' sense of the phrase (milk first, then pour brewed liquid into the cup), I do look forward to a milkless cup every evening, and sometimes during the day. 

I stopped drinking tea with milk when I was about four years old.  My dad used to get up around 5am, (sometimes earlier, and in latter years much earlier!) and make a cup of tea, before going out in his Licensed London Taxi (he would always correct people who merely said, 'a black cab', and tell the correct term was a 'licensed' cab, which meant he suffered, and completed, 'The Knowledge!)  If I was awake, I would go downstairs and join my dad for this early morning beverage, and then go back to bed.  Once I started 'big' school, and my dad started leaving home earlier, this routine stopped, and so did my enjoyment of the 'nice cup of tea! In latter years, and especially during my 'confinement' with my two children, I could not drink coffee, and milk did not agree with me, so I found milkless tea a good alternative, and now I do find myself saying in times of (mild) duress, 'let's put the kettle on'. 

Telling a work colleague that all would be better after 'a nice cuppa', was met with a very confused look.  Although I have a tendency to mess with the citizens, on this occasion it was not my intention.  We had, surprisingly enough, been victims of inclement weather, and for the second time in a week, slid along the highway into work.  The only advantage to this scenario is that there is very little traffic as very few Austinites venture out if the temperature drops below jacket weather.  A fur coat in Austin is general only worn by those whom grow it naturally, or humans from out of town!  Dana had told everyone not to hurry into work, as most of our early morning deliveries would be a waste of time due to offices being closed.  By mid-afternoon things had started to defrost, but we were still experiencing a problem with courthouses around the State, as staff were not answering their phones, as they had not turned up for work.  My comment, 'I'll put the kettle on, and we will have a nice cuppa', failed to quell the frustration of of Jason, our newest recruit, and he looked at me with a most quizzical expression.  The fact I said it in a mock Yorkshire accent was probably just as disturbing as the sentence itself.  'How will a cup of tea help?' he queried.  My explanation, although rather sensible to me, did little to dispel his theory that I had suffered a loss of sanity.  Unfortunately, the perplexity did exacerbate the symptoms my moderate to severe sarcasm.  After several offers, he declined the tea, quite certain that it would not solve anything!

As is typical, the weather went from freezing to almost hot within 24 hours, and by Wednesday afternoon the balmy temperatures made it pleasant enough to discard the coat as well as the jacket, and a stroll in shirt sleeves.  Courthouses around the State were now manned and we were able to answer questions posed the previous day.  That is to say, most courthouses were able to answer most of the questions.  After attempting to find out the progress of a law suit that had been filed in a county far away from us, I told Jason that it was, 'time to put the kettle on, again!'  Considering his bewilderment the previous day, it was rather amusing to hear him shout from the other room, 'Why? What is the problem?'  I had been connected to the office of the clerk, and explained my predicament.  Without going into too much irrelevant detail (which I realise is most unlike me) one too few writs had been issued and I was asking whether the attorney had failed to ask for the appropriate number, or whether the court had made a mistake. (I have learned never to assign blame without a disclaimer first!)  'The clerk is out this afternoon', came the initial reply.  It would appear that her son had an appointment with the orthodontist, and she would not return until the following morning.  It was my turn to look perplexed!  In not so many words, I inquired if this meant that the judicial system, within their county, came to a grinding halt, simply because the clerk's son needed to have braces.  The answer was, 'Yes'.  I thanked the operator for the clarification and let our client know that his papers would not be ready due to cosmetic dentistry.  I did not add a post script to suggest that a 'hot beverage' would indeed make all better. 

By the end of the week, the offer to 'put the kettle on', was being thrown about without caution.  Frustrated exclamations, followed by 'you can't be serious!' (without a tennis racket in sight!!!) were succeeded with a chorus of, 'Whose for a nice cup of tea!'  It is probably just as well that we live in Texas, and not Boston, as the 'Anglisization' of my comrades would seem to make the most famous tea party of all to have been in vain! 

Friday was the hottest day of the week, and cans of the more 'regional', iced tea were being drunk in our corner of 6th Street.  Everything appeared, on the surface, to be back to normal, and our weekend was approaching with the usual sense of anticipation, rather than the trepidation that we experienced at the beginning of the week.  My afternoon constitutional was interrupted by the usual pan-handlers, and the young, fearless 'Charity' workers, who have devised the most artful ways of stopping people to hear their schpeel!  I strolled in the afternoon sun, and deposited my express packages into the appropriate boxes, in the mail room of the rather plush Omni Hotel, and then marched up to Congress Avenue, to ensure that my walk was a full mile, rather than a portion thereof!  I didn't have any spare change for those who asked.  In fact, I did not have any change, as I failed to put my purse into my red draw stringed bag, purposely to be able to answer honestly!  (Candidly speaking, I do not ever have spare change.)  The students standing with their white folders using all sorts of methods to get me to stop and 'save a child', were unsuccessful.  The term 'Flattery will get you no-where', comes to mind.  What made the long haired youth consider that it would be of interest to me to 'hang out' with him, is quite beyond my comprehension!  Dressed in clothes that should have been washed a week ago, and a beard that despite taking (probably) a week to grow, looked more like a five o'clock shadow, he appeared to be doing enough 'hanging out' by himself!  (Stop me from being my mother, please!)  As I returned to the office, I unburdened myself of the red draw stringed bag, and stated, 'I am going to put the kettle on.  Who wants a cup of tea'.  I am not sure if I felt a sense of pride, or just that of success, when Jason shouted from his room, 'Who has upset you?' 

This morning, Dana and I went for out for breakfast.  We were slightly later than usual as he had been a little poorly yesterday afternoon, and being the dutiful wife, I wanted him to get as much rest as possible before spoiling me with my dietary whims. He ordered, much to my surprise, a cup of tea!  I laughed upon his request and stated that it would make him feel 'much better'.  The order was actually, 'I would like some hot tea', but I was sure they would need to, in one way or another, 'Put the kettle on!'  The tea did not arrive as it would in an English House, but was placed on the table in a 'do it yourself' fashion.  A large black jug (resembling a coffee pot rather than that of tea), two tea bags, and a bottle of honey was put before him.  I reassured myself that it would have the same effect! 

Tea will probably be flowing next weekend, as Samantha and I are off to meet the 'extended family' in New York.  My cousin, Lesley, her two daughters, and a couple of friends are flying in from London.  I humbly request a week's sabbatical from my faithful readers (to all of whom I am most grateful) as we do not return until late Monday night.  However, I would like to assure you that at the end of the weekend following, we can all put the kettle on, make a nice cuppa and, hopefully, enjoy ........... another story!

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