This is not a post about tea. This is not a post about the quaint traditions of this fair isle and this fair city when it comes to tea drinking. This is a call to arms. This is a crusade. This is about British soldiers in World War II stopping their tanks just after landing in Normandy and making a cuppa. This is about what makes us human, what makes us whole, what gives us something to believe in. This is about a lack of respect. I'm not sure what this is about now, I've lost my train of thought with all the ranting. Ah, yes.
I'm an ordinary sort of British bloke. I like football. I like cricket. I enjoy taunting Germans about sausage. You know, an ordinary sort of Brit. In fact, I would go as far to say I'm a typical Londoner, in that a generation ago my family didn't live anywhere near the place and now that we do, we've all got South London accents and are fiercely proud of it. So, frankly the love of a cup of tea is ingrained in us. It's probably something in the water. Thinking about it, it was probably because the water was so bad that we became such crazed tea drinkers in the first place. No, actually now I think about it some more, it was probably because the water was so bad that we became such crazed beer drinkers.
Getting to the point finally, it dawned on me today as I bought my cup of tea at the station kiosk this morning, that getting hold of a decent cup of tea has become something of a trial. You can forget Starbucks, Coffee Republic and all that because despite the vast selection of tea they might have on offer, steaming the crap out of a tea bag in a vast mug, drowning it in milk and then leaving the bag to float about like Laura Palmer does not constitute making a cup of tea. Your average greasy spoon still makes a good mug of tea if your very hung over and need something to suck down that bacon sandwich with, but not a decent cup of tea, not the refined fragrant drink that we built an empire on, not the same refined fragrant drink we were too busy drinking to realise we'd lost an empire, swiftly followed by the realisation that empires are a bit rubbish on the whole and are probably best avoided.
There is a reason that there is so much ceremony about a cup of tea, the time and effort are worth it. You end up with something so satisfying at the end of all that palaver with tea leaves and warming pots and all that. To be honest, it is still alive and well in most places outside London. The girlfriend's grandmother still uses leaves and only breaks out the tea bags when the girlfriend goes up to see her.
What am I really saying? I'm probably saying that I love a good mug of tea with the paper and a fry up but I sometimes hanker after bone china and white linen, proper tea pots and tiny sandwiches with wafter thin slices of cucumber and tomato. Something a bit more genteel and probably a bit more starched.