Tea Memories

  

A second-hand teabag, a spoonful of sugar and a large quantity of milk- that’s how I remember it.

We’d be having a sleepover at Nana’s. Already in our pyjamas, with a tea towel tucked into our collars in case of spillage, sipping the warm, milky tea while Sandy Pussycat stretched himself out on the hearth rug.

These are my memories of tea.

***

We’d be at Granny’s, in her farm house kitchen, eating crusty cheese rolls while various dogs wound in and out of table legs and human legs. 

The teacups were pale blue or yellow and she always used a teapot. Always milk first. Everyone added their own sugar, which invariably meant you put at least three spoonfuls in your tiny cup. 

***

Farv always said you weren’t grown up unless you drank tea or coffee. I tried both. I didn’t like either. Tea didn’t taste the same at home.

***

A builder called Stuart was at our house. He drank tea like a chain-smoker puffed on cigarettes. He had a round, friendly face and we all thought he was wonderful.

Muv would send me to collect his cup for the next round and, completely deadpan, he’d say “I had to chew that!”

“Right, that’s it!” I thought, spooning marmite, gravy granules and a few drops of Tabasco into his brew. George’s Marvellous Medicine.

***

The tea came out of a machine. So did the coffee and the orange squash. I was new and everyone drank something different. A 32, a 34… They all knew the machine’s code for their preference. 

The tea was thin and smelt horrid, but the office was cold and the liquid was warming.

I carried six steaming cups on a tray. One of ‘the men’ made me jump and what I didn’t spill on my poor hands became jumbled up in the cups. Hot chocolate-tea was surprisingly pleasant.

***

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