Monday, November 07, 2005

Tea: Is There Anything it CAN'T Do?

“I’ll go put kettle on.”

Tea. It’s the answer to all life’s problems on Coronation Street.

Your husband’s a bigamist? Put kettle on. Your boyfriend confesses he’s gay? Put kettle on. You’ve been sharing your bed with a serial killer? Put kettle on.

The following is an excerpt from Kate Fox’s book, “Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour” in which she discusses the healing properties of a good cuppa.

Tea is still believed, by English people of all classes, to have miraculous properties. A cup of tea can cure, or at least significantly alleviate, almost all minor physical ailments and indispositions, from a headache to a scraped knee. Tea is also an essential remedy for all social and psychological ills, from a bruised ego to the trauma of a divorce or bereavement. This magical drink can be used equally effectively as a sedative or stimulant, to calm and soothe or to revive and invigorate. Whatever your mental or physical state, what you need is ‘a nice up of tea’.

Perhaps most importantly, tea-making is the perfect displacement activity: whenever the English feel awkward or uncomfortable in a social situation (that is, almost all of the time), they make tea. It’s a universal rule: when in doubt, put the kettle on. Visitors arrive; we have our usual difficulties over greeting protocol. We say, ‘I’ll just put the kettle on’. There is one of those uneasy lulls in the conversation, and we’ve run out of weather-speak. We say, ‘Now, who’d like more tea? I’ll just go and put the kettle on’. A business meeting might involve having to talk about money. We postpone the uncomfortable bit by making sure everyone has tea. A bad accident – people are injured and in shock: tea is needed. ‘I’ll put the kettle on.’ World War Three breaks out – a nuclear attack is imminent. ‘I’ll put the kettle on.’

You get the idea. We are rather fond of our tea.

And you just never know when a nice cuppa will come in handy as this item from The Telegraph reveals . . . . .

A Baptist minister sent a raider packing by pouring a hot cup of tea over him as he ransacked the vestry.

Rev Roy Merrin, 66, had spotted a figure through the window of his office and shouted "Who's there?" Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Lee Mullholland, 27, rushed past Mr Merrin at Grange Road Baptist Church, Jarrow, South Tynside. Tony Davis, prosecuting, said: "The reverend threw a cup of tea at the intruder in order to hinder his progress." But the burglar left a fingerprint behind, and was arrested by police.

Mullholland, of Hebburn, South Tyneside, who is already serving 27 months for two earlier burglaries, admitted burglary at the church and was sentenced to a further three months.

No comments: