Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Tea and the decline of British Society.

After blogging about tea yesterday, I started to think about the significance of tea in British life. I was wondering if tea drinking statistics can be used as a measure of social behaviour patterns.

In the past tea was attributed with having special powers.

You’ve just been knocked down by a bus and someone would rush up and offer you a cup of tea, “you’ll feel a lot better after drinking that”.

In the Second World War a bomb has just demolished your house, no problem a neighbour would be there to brew up a cuppa for you, “you’ll feel a lot better after drinking that”.

Your doctor has just informed you you have terminal cancer and have six months to live, “no problem dear lets go to the cafĂ© for a nice hot sweet cup of strong tea, you’ll feel a lot better after drinking that”.

In those days tea was brewed in a teapot using tea leaves.

Britain lost its Empire and the British were no longer worthy of having tea brewed from tea leaves. With the loss of respect they only qualified to have tea bags, made from the sweepings off the floor of the tea factories.

But tea still had a unifying influence on British family life. At 4p.m. children sat around the kitchen table with their mother, drank tea, eat jam on toast and exchanged stories about the day’s events, before doing their homework.

After a meal, the man of the house would take out a packet of fags, (no he didn’t have miniature homosexuals in his pocket), light up a cigarette and drank a dark brown cup of strong sweat tea, (my father would put 5 heaped spoonful of sugar - I would sit and watch as he stirred and stirred the tea in an attempt to dissolve the treacly glob of sugar). I’d wait to see if he would blow a smoke ring. That’s one of the last memories I have of him, the night before he died, sitting watching TV, blowing the most perfectly symmetrical smoke ring, “that was perfect”, “yes” he laughed.

In contrast to the British, the Americans have always been hooked on coffee. They have no appreciation for tea - look at the Boston Tea Party and the barbaric act of emptying boxes of tea into the harbour. The start of the decline of their society can be traced to that point in time. All that caffeine from coffee was bound to have a detrimental effect. They were too stimulated to appreciate the joys of cricket. Probably had an adverse influence of their brain cells.

Regrettably there has been a similar decline in Britain. Up to ten years ago, every town in Britain had at least one “Greasy Spoon”. Cafes whose atmosphere was a combination of steam from the hot water boiler and fat vapour from the deep fat fryer. They would be inhabited by youths listening to the jukebox, housewives dragging at their cigarettes and coughing over their empty cups, the saucers full of ash and lipstick stained cigarette butts. Now those glorious bastions of all that was great in British culinary arts are no more. They have been replaced in the High Streets by Starbucks and other large multinational coffee shop chains. So now the young think it’s hip to sit around drinking over priced extra large cups of frothy milky coffee. In the mean time children drink sweat gassy liquid concoctions from tins.

What has been the result of replacing our great British cuppa, with those insipid chemically modified foreign drinks? Moral decline, New Labour, Tony (I lie through my teeth) Blair and the Iraq War.

Bring back the good old British cup of tea. Let’s have kids sitting around tables communicating with their parents. And most of all re-engender the community spirit which saw neighbours offering cups of tea in times of joy and trouble.

3 comments:

janzjottings said...

I don't like tea but I like your sentiments. I'll be back

Steph Lealman said...

To be honest I'm not that big a fan of tea - I don't mind it, I just am not that keen on hot drinks.

I get what you mean about the "Great British Cuppa" thing though, but most of my friends drink tea, and I do when I have to, but tea and family communicating isn't dead as such...Though Tony Blair's government shoould be really.

...And tea is used in Doctor Who to help bring The Doctor out of his coma state in The Christmas Invasion - Be a great ad campaign too; "Drink tea, it can medically cure you and doesn't taste half bad either"

cafe_bean said...

Okay, I apologise! I was feeling very touchy that day! Did not mean to be such a grumpy old fart! ;) You remind me slightly of Jeremy Clarkson! I am reading one of his books at the moment and it has similar content only less about tea!