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Posts Tagged ‘tea’

You serve me with a smile. You really like me. I have fennel tea. For you, every customer has to be reckoned with. There’s solitude at home and then there’s company at work. You’re bewildered by my choice. Do I want milk? I don’t. Do I want tap water? Yes. You want me to stay and talk. You raise your hand and I’m a puppy to your instruction. Stay, stay. I wait and count your tips. Coppers and some silver. My drinks are here. You ask me with your eyes, Why not stay? Have a heart. Why not just stay?

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I am in a rush, I hear the sound of my footsteps, the wheezing of the automatic door opening, the selection of a basket, the apology from a small child and then the crinkle of packets. At the checkout, you have a yoghurt and a bottle of water and tell me you don’t like to eat. This information invites discussion. I am tempted to comment on your hipbones and the strain of your cheeks but I smile instead, tell you I adore the taste of hot tea, creamy scones with jam. I watch you count out £1.39 in small change.

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I step outside and you move away, think again and return to where you were. You’re on your mobile phone, you’re prodding at the keys and then you tell me I’m only hurting myself by standing in the cold instead of in the pub. I tell you alcohol is evil and I only ever drink pure green tea. You say that you used to have accidents when you drank cider, but the part that hurt was never the part that got hurt. I recommend elderflower, I praise freshly squeezed lemonade. You say life is too short not to choose Guinness.

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I trip over your chair, an embarrassing entrance, but it makes for an immediate introduction. We shake hands. You’re pleased to meet me. You describe things as wonderful or heartbreaking. Under the first agenda point, I volunteer a project idea. Pens scribbles and I write it down myself, to remember, to join in. You touch the collar of your leather jacket and speak of women in prisons. The air is full of tentative, eager exchanges, with something in it sad and regretful. I drink a peppermint tea. We all do. This speaks volumes about the type of people we are.

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I take my place at the till and you tell me how much you are looking forward to X Factor. The twins are very bad and you laugh when you see them. They are bad, you say, very bad. Their haircuts! Your name is Ivy. I hear about the judges, bad too, as I pack my shopping and then say I don’t own a television. This is important information for you. What do I do without it? Books, radio and cups of tea. You look at my organic oakcakes, frown, and then tell me I could still catch the show online.

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Interrupting your conversation, I confuse you both. A life-size dolls house, Ikea is strangely intimate. I sit on the sofa, examining a ladle and admiring the Alvine Räffla cushion cover design, whilst you two joke about the night ahead and which of you has on better earrings. I trip over my own words. If I’d had a pot of tea, I’d have offered you a cupful, but instead I think I am in your home and that your ‘Can I Help You?’ badges mean more than suggesting furnishing advice. I think I should have chosen the red, not the paisley.

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You’re not an attention seeker, you just wanted to know if we liked the cakes. We don’t answer you until you are out of earshot. I think we are unlikely to be friends. You are not someone who drives to work and has a designated carking space. You have an apron and crumbs on your fingers. You spill my drink and mop it up with a dirty cloth and I talk over your apology because I’m not in the mood for this. I look at the couple on the next table: nine macaroons, a bottle of wine and holding hands.

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