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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Monday, September 09, 2002
    Have a cup of tea, have another one
     
    I promise this will be the last Bill Drummond reference for some time at least. On finishing the book I think I've discovered just why I warm to him so much, like what he's about, who he is. It's because we share something very deep and very special. We are both tea drinkers.

    'For me', he writes, 'starting the day without a pot of tea would be a day forever out of kilter.' Well, that's how I feel too. Have done for as long as I can recall.

    Drummond calls tea a 'subtle drug' by comparison to coffee which hits you between the eyes. But tea, nevertheless, is addictive. I'd not be without it. Why?

    Maybe because it's central to my formative years. The heart of the family was my Nan's tiny kitchen and the focus of the kitchen was the ever-boiling kettle, the constantly-refilled teapot. That small room was where our folks dropped by, brushed shoulders, sorted out problems, shared laughter, got the news. All over a cup of tea, served in china cups. Nana had been in service; she knew the right way to present a beverage.

    Even when I got to teenage and 'rebelled' I didn't leave tea behind. Never into drugs I nevertheless got into druggy music. This was the late 70s so the music was Steve Hillage (very English), and especially Gong, famous for their classic Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1 - Flying Teapot, a surreal triptych of songs about "a telepathic pirate radio network operating brain to brain by crystal machine transmitter direct from Planet Gong," according to forcedexposure.com. Despite this, there was nothing scary about their druggy activities when all they did was induce visions of tea-drinking afternoons and inspire the mantra, "Have a cup of tea, have another one, have a cup of tea..."

    Then in 1988, in a doomed attempt at self-publishing, Jim Haywood and I put together a magazine of Christian satire, The Fire Bucket, the highlight being a page compiled by the fictional character 'Earnest Teadrinker' (who could heve been either of us, given our penchant for a pot of good old Yorkshire).

    Jump a couple of decades and what do I do now? I live the cliche, 'more tea, vicar?' and live it gladly. I constantly find myself privy to people opening up in conversation and forms of everyday confession, often if not always with a teacup in their hand.

    There's a PhD somewhere in the sociology (or spirituality) of tea-drinking. Someone else can attempt that, though. Me, I'm just going to put the kettle on. Fancy a cuppa?