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Thursday, January 31, 2013

I wrote this a couple of years ago, but reading someone else's blog made me think about it again. The part about making tea without a kettle has changed, of course. We now have a Keurig machine. Best. Thing. Ever.


If you are cold, tea will warm you. If you are too heated, it will cool you. If you are depressed, it will cheer you. If you are excited, it will calm you.

~Gladstone, 1865

Gladstone said this? In 1865? But I have always said this. I thought it originated with me. I suppose it is one of those universal truths, like, you can’t make tea without a kettle.

We had a kettle; we let it leak:
Our not repairing made it worse.
We haven’t had any tea for a week…
The bottom is out of the Universe.

~Rudyard Kipling

We have had four different kettles in the past six months. They break. The lids work on some intricate mechanism that fails, or the seals at the base are faulty. We have given up on cordless kettles. They are the worst. In fact, at the moment, we’ve given up on electric kettles altogether and are using the old kind that sits on the stove on top of a gas flame and whistles when it boils. Even so, the seals at the base are faulty, and gray grime bubbles to the surface, dripping on my glass-top stove. But the tea, the tea is tasting better than it has in years, so if the gray grime is poison, it’s sweet poison.


February 1986:

I stepped into the area known sometimes as the lunchroom and sometimes as the kitchen and I approached the kettle. There was free tea and coffee, a perk of the job. It had got to the point where I was drinking eight cups of coffee a day because I didn’t have to pay for it. I didn’t like coffee much but it was free, dammit! After I noticed that eight cups was too much for my fragile heart, I switched back to tea. I brought my own tea bags, though. The free ones were crap.

It was an old kettle. Not too many people used it. Mostly, they abused it. Auto-off was not a feature of cheap electric kettles in those days, so the cord had been pulled violently from the socket so many times it was losing its electrical integrity. One day as I plugged in the kettle for my tea, blue sparks jumped from the socket, enveloped the kettle and disappeared with a pop and a puff of smoke. Not magic, misery. I was shocked, literally. And, to make matters worse, there was no tea to ease the suffering.


March 1991:

At the Liverpool docks we stopped at the Tate Gallery to see the Henry Moore sculpture collection, the largest other than the one in Toronto at the AGO. The exhibit was closed that day and we were leaving the next, so we took solace in the fact that at least you could get a decent cup of tea in England.

At an outdoor café (amazing, outdoors in March and it wasn’t even warm) where we could look across and see a floating map of England – apparently the local news station used it for their weather forecasts. There was also a miniature red submarine, like something out of Disneyland, painted with the Ty-phoo logo.

“Two cups of tea, please,” we ordered from the aproned waiter who came to our table.

“Oh, what part of Canada are you from?” he asked.

“How do you know we’re Canadian?” (Most Britons think we are American.)

“Americans don’t order tea. They always want coffee.”

[NOTE: This post has been edited for length, with a long section removed from the end.]
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