Archive for April, 2010

Tea: The drink that changed the world (book #70)

7 April 2010

John Griffiths, 2007.

Two interesting quotations:

[quoting Lord Woolton, Minister for Food] “if we had given up during the war the blending of tea, the use of brands, if we had decided on this dull level of equality, we should have lost something in our national life. Taste, individual taste, is worth preserving and cultivating; it adds to the joy of living and flavours existence.”

And what if the Germans had succeeded in invading? Large numbers of men of all ages and occupations were being trained for resistance in guerilla warfare. But five thousand were being trained in another vital technique – the secret brewing of tea – a weapon considered as essential to effective resistance as guns and explosives! This was, and is, typical of both British blasé-ness, even boldness, and British blindness. No one doubted that the Briish would continue to drink tea, but no one had thought to ask how tea was to be imported into an occupied Britain.

Caveat: Griffiths gives no footnotes, so I can’t check either of these.

Other things …
– oddly enough, another writer (Laura Martin) wrote a book with the same title and subtitle in the same year.
– a report of a talk by Griffiths about his book.
– a short Guardian review of two other histories of tea.
– and apparently the Handover ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics will include “icons and images of British society and culture [such as] Tea – as important in the UK as in China – the old cliché ‘everything stops for tea’ is given new meaning by a brief tea break right in the middle of the show … a tea lady emerges with a mountain of cakes and sandwiches signalling that for the British, even in the rarefied atmosphere of a Closing Ceremony, everything stops for tea … two trolleys of tea, cakes and cucumber sandwiches for the cast”. How very whimsical.

Pollyanna’s Western Adventure (book #69)

4 April 2010

Harriet Loomis Smith, 1929.

“Listen, everybody. I’m going to start a circulating library [having discovered there are no books on the ranch]. Spots on the tablecloth will be subject to a fine of one cent for children and five for adults. And we’ll use the money for buying books. And then we’ll all ask our friends to send us the books they are through with.”

“I’ll present you with the text-books I used in college,” offered Dorothy generously. “I’ve finished with them, I hope.”

“They’d be useful to somebody, I don’t doubt, but they don’t fit in with this plan. I want the most interesting books that have ever been written. I know lots of people that will help. Aunt Ruth and Lorraine and Anne and – ”

You’ll have to appoint a censor, won’t you?” interrupted Jimmy. “It won’t do to corrupt the morals of this valley.”

Pollyanna’s hesitation was momentary. “I’ll tell them to send only nice books, of course. There really are plenty of them, though they’re not talked about as much as the others. It’s like the happy marriages. The people who quarrel and fight and sue for divorce get into the newspapers, and the happy couples are never mentioned.”