I remember a tea friend,
And early mornings,
The cool of the front room,
As summer began to press,
Blind heat through the open kitchen door,
Water in a whistling kettle,
The front left hob, the fast one,
Two teapots, black and blue, with matching cosies,
Four teaspoons of loose leaf,
Never bags, the proper old way,
Purely practical, that, not snobbery!
That was for the crudely well off,
Not the likes of us,
Poor, pretty, and proud.
And when the kettle began its song,
You took its water,
But carried the tune,
Singing to the blue pot, as you steeped the tea,
A song known only to yourself,
Three minutes long,
Perfect to the second, every performance,
The kitchen your stage,
Your only audience ourselves and the pottery.
And when your song was done,
Strained into the black pot,
Cups out, and cosy on,
Sugar? We’re sweet enough already!
Milk full and buttery,
Billowed and swirled,
Saucers and cups gently clacked,
News shared, jokes told.
And once a year, on Christmas day,
The Crown Derby,
Sacred artefacts, ceremoniously taken down,
From the High Altar,
Baptised, born again,
Confirmed by the tea-priestess,
A member of the Church of the Really Useful,
As witnessed by a hushed congregation.