Tea – the cup that cheers….or WMD?

Ah, the whistle of the kettle, the soothing plop of milk into cup, perhaps the possibility of a nice dunking biscuit on the side. We have a wealth of paraphernalia that goes with brewing up – special pots, cups, saucers with shelves for the bickie, special spoons for precise amounts of sugar, special sugar, sugar spoons – yes, spoons made of sugar! – special biscuits made to dunk and not break off, special biscuits made to dunk and break off……..tea cosies, trivets, pot stands, kettles to boil on the hob, with a plug, over the fire, on the Aga. Northern tea is strong, Southern tea is weak. British tea is milky, Irish tea is something you can stand a spoon up in. Rooibosh or camomile? Earl Grey or Lady Grey? Breakfast or Darjeeling? Every aspect of tea making has been thought through, catered to and created.

But beneath that benign and flavoursome surface, brown and scented, there is a backstory to make the Borgias tremble.

Do you make tea in your office? Do you make tea for everyone in your office? Do you visit each office on your floor, each room in your office, each desk in each room, and ask if anyone wants a brew? Or are you selective? Do you notice who asks whom? Do you spot that Hilda in the HR department always asks the chaps in Business Development if they want a brew, but never ventures as far as Finance? Do you notice that the PA to the CEO makes his tea and tea for the Ops Director but not for the MD? Do you feel offended that Sue takes her tray around to three of the five offices but misses yours, even though you always buy her a drink at the Christmas do? Do you deliberately whip past Jacks office door with the tray so he won’t notice that you are missing him out in your disapproval of his office romance? Or do you make sure he does see you with your tray so that he clocks your disapproval? Do you preen a little when the Finance Director offers you a (rare) cup when he is trying to get a favour from your team? Do you recognise that the woman with the gammy arm never makes tea not because she hates you all, but because she can’t manage the tray, or do you hold firm to your tea-induced prejudice that tells you that anyone making, or not making, tea has an ulterior motive?

The teacup has become a Weapon of Mild Distraction in offices across the country, where staff wait, with bated breath and an offence poised to be taken, to see who pours for whom and who gets the Jaffa Cake and who gets the HobNob. And as for the cakes………..

Tea, the cup that could cheer.  I have an idea: let’s use the teacup in the friendly way it was intended – I will if you will! Pop the kettle on, rattle the tea caddy, rustle that biscuit packet, and let’s raise a cup to friendship (or if not friendship, at least human warmth and a commitment to get along  ) and promise to work together in harmony and peace.  That ritual of preparation has been developed for a reason – to allow us to connect, show affection and warmth, and keep our hands busy. Let’s get brewing! Mine’s a Rooibosh!

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