AuthorRobert Godden

Remembering Milly

I’ve posted this info on the Beasts of Brewdom  website, because we Beasts all loved MIlly, MIldred Singleton or @mildewpea, depending on how you knew her.

I came up with an idea, and it seems to have kicked off a bit, so now I hope it can live up to everyone’s expectations.

This article will lay out what’s happening and how. It’s dynamic, so if I run into any issues, please try back here. And afterwards, we’ll tun it into something of a blog, so feel free to comment.

For those who don’t know me, my name is Robert Godden, I am also known as The Devotea.

As far at the Milly story goes, I’m nobody important. I knew her online; I considered her a friend. I hoped to join with others to share our memoris.

The on-line event will take 3 forms:

  • Start using the #rememberingmilly hashtag on twitter to share your thoughts.
  • Add them as a comment here
  • I’ll start a google+ hangout and post the details on my twitter account @the_devotea

It kicks off at 8am in my home timezone, Adelaide Australia. I’d recommend using timeanddate.com ‘s meeting planner if you need help figuring that out. It’s a bit over one hour after this post goes live.

I hope you can all find a nice cuppa, your best china, a slice of cake and join in. I’ll also be bringing tissues, just in case, but I hope it’s just a great time to share stories and mark the passing of a true original.

ADDED NOTE: If you use Hootsuite or TWeetdeack etc, add #rememberingmilly as a saved search

 

Patrol Car 17? There’s a 712 in progress at 3300 Las Vegas Boulevard…

 

A totally fictitious rookie cop turns to his older, wiser. non-politically-correct, badly-dressed, marriage-falling-apart, nearly-gets-suspended-every-episode-but-was-right-all-along partner.

“A 712? What’s that, Malone?”

 

The older, wiser and so on partner throws his doughnut – which he can’t spell, being American – out of the car window, engages the sirens, and slams the patrol car into gear, taking off with an impressively illegal burnout to add to the littering offence he’s just committed.

 

Let’s say an elderly man pulls the dog he’s innocently walking back from the road just in time for Fido to avoid an under-tyre experience, and to top it all off, there’s a huge pile of cardboard boxes that have been stacked alongside the kerb for no apparent reason.

They fly as the patrol car smashes through them, screeching to a halt outside of a tea room just 200 metres from where it was originally parked.

 

Malone bursts from the car and pops the boot/trunk/bit at the back where you store stuff , pulling a shotgun out and donning a flak jacket.

 

“Malone?” stammers the rookie.
“Come on, kid, this is the sharp end.” Malone tucks a cigarette behind his ear, cocks the shotgun, and heads for the door.

 

“Some guy’s just put milk in a Margaret’s Hope First Flush.”

Everything I know about Las Vegas, I know from TV, and by that, I pretty well mean CSI, the original good one, from when it was still both of those.

So I know it’s got a casino or two, it is the world’s greatest example of the difference between having money and having taste, and it’s a place where endless comic heroes get drunk and end up married by, or even to, Elvis.

Incidentally, this phenomenon is not confined to Las Vegas. My two favourite US TV shows are Dexter and Burn Notice, and so I have mixed feelings about Miami – I love the thought of the Art Deco architecture, but there seems to be an awful lot of spies and serial killers there. (I know there is also a CSI:Miami , but not every redhead is worth watching.)

So, I am always staggered by the fact that the World Tea Expo is in Las Vegas.

WHAT?

Can you imagine the briefing at Police HQ?

“OK guys, the tea crowd are in town. So until this is over, no overtime. Johnny, I want you to take that holiday. Pete, you can catch up on some paperwork. Rocky, let the car pool know that it’s time to service all the patrol cars – no, wait-better keep one back in case some old dear can’t hold her Lapsang Souchong. And the rest of you, let’s spend the day at O’malleys. First round’s on me.”

The juxtaposition of tea and vice is, of course, an old phenomena, but tea has cleaned up its act on the last 100 years or so.

So why Las Vegas? It’s hard to imagine keen tea company executives with a scantily clad member of the preferred gender, throwing the papers for a container of Bai Mu Dan on Evens. Or linking arm-in-arm, staggering down the Boulevard after being ejected from the tea rooms for inappropriate behaviour. The entire staff of Mrs Betty Fuller’s Tea Emporium of Truckstop, Oregon weaving their spandex-clad frames through the pokies/slot machine alleyways, then calling for a Nuwara Eliya at the machine because they’re sure it’s about to come up with a big enough jackpot to corner the market in Gyokuru.

I think I’ll just say it again.

Why Las Vegas?

This means that Las Vegas is the second city in my series of US cities I might feel compelled to visit. The added bonus is that if I take @lahikmajoe, I might be able to convince people he’s a younger version of Grisham from CSI and score some free drinks.

 Why Las Vegas?

Hardened and Shameless

The feisty Melbourne lass @joiedetea describe both her and myself as “hardened and shameless” tea drinkers.

The minute I saw that phrase, I felt compelled to write for Beasts of Brewdom. So here we are.

The subject of today’s blog is about exactly how much size matters.

If it’s too small, you miss out on a great deal of satisfaction.

 

If it’s too large, there’s a heavy price to pay.

Yes, like Goldilocks ordering some Keemun Mao Feng from the Three Bears Tea Company, you want to get it just right.

In the civilised world, where we long ago gave up on things like “pounds” and “ounces” along with cave wall painting and mammoth-wool cardigans, there is a standard ‘postable’ tea size of 100grams, and another of 250grams. Sometimes 50g or 500g come up, but they are a little unusual.

Is 100grams big enough?

I’ve had samples of 20grams where I’ve nursed each gram, re-steeped as often as possible, and they’ve lasted a week. I’ve had 100gram bags gone in a day. I’ve still got tea from 100g bags I bought in 2010. I’ve got a kilo of Wild Cherry Rooibos I’ve had for years, but that’s another story.

Soon, I hope to sell a lot more tea on-line.

What is the right size?

I just don’t know.

And please don’t tell me it doesn’t matter.

 

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Tea is just the best gift there is.

Now, I know some smartarse out there – male , of course – will say at this point “No, I’d rather be given a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 with its uncompromisingly crisp contours and 12-cylinder engine in bright yellow, thanks very much”.

But ask yourself this, buddy: When you wake up in the morning with a taste in your mouth like you’ve eaten curried rat,  ear canals like a wind tunnel, the feeling that you’ve lost at least one limb and a non-functioning brain that seems one size too large for your head, is your first thought “A quick spin in a car designed to show the world how insecure I am about my tiny penis will do the trick.” ?

No, it’s bloody well not. It’s a croaking “tea……tea…..tea”

No coffee drinker can ever get this. Coffee slaps you in the face. By the time you get to the end of the first cup, you’re awake all right. And ready for questioning by Laurence Olivier’s character from the Marathon Man. It’s softened you up so that the day can crush you like a beer can on Chuck Norris’s forehead.

Tea works with you, gliding you towards a state of wakefulness that is calm and serene.

And let’s talk about the coffee in most households.

It takes a few minutes for an espresso machine to warm up. Grind some good coffee – for mornings something like a nice mild Maragogype or a little Mysore – get your milk steamed and voila – it’s lovely. A little skill and care and it’s a great experience.

That’s what should occur. Because no other form of coffee is good enough. Anyone who has spent more that 3 minutes conversing with me knows my feelings on the foetid, rancid, stomach-churning concept of teabags. But I’d rather have one every day for the rest of my life that take one sip of the pestilence known as “instant coffee”, which I gave up on a Friday morning in 1981.

Anyway, back to that first tea of the day. It set you up for the whole day. It is nature’s most marvellous gift.

Now, when I say tea is the best gift there is, I don’t mean a nice strong  Harmutty and a playful little Keemun Mao Feng in a basket with some biscuits and wrapped in a bow (though feel free to send me any variation on that at any time).

I mean the love of tea.

And the time to give someone that gift is as a child. Children can pick up a habit in three minutes that will stay with them for life. That’s why the Jesuits say “give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man”, though of course they don’t say it as often now since the world noticed the Vatican’s tacit condoning of child abuse.

So back to the children. Children should be given the Gift of Tea, The Gift of a Love of Tea.

I’ve been privileged enough to see some of the creative process behind a book “The World’s Special Tea” by Jo Johnson.

Jo, also known as @theGiftOfTea (as well as a few other monikers) has created a book that is essentially a look at the history of tea, in prose for children. It is designed to be presented at a tea party for children.

Imagine that. Kids love pageantry, ritual and ceremony, and Jo wants to give it to them,. She has the book, she has a blend of herbals to get around the ” you can’t give caffeine to kids” nonsense and she also runs, or is intending to run, such parties as a service in her local area.

Imagine that your kid goes to a party and comes back with a curiosity for tea. What a life changing experience!

And particularly, Beasts and Lady Beasts, we need to encourage small boys to attend. Hundreds of people will tell them that it’s OK to play football, beat up the nerd or jump their bike over gutters, but YOU need to give them permission to feel good about tea.

Not just because eventually they’ll wind up at sixteen as the only boy at a tea event with twenty girls who don’t get out much – as a former sixteen-year-old buy, I can attest that this is a coveted situation -but because the gift of tea will be with them once they’ve kicked their last football, flushed their last nerd and upgraded their bike to a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 with its uncompromisingly crisp contours and 12-cylinder engine in bright yellow or something similar, like a Toyota.

Then they can become MEN!

MEN who are PROUD to be TEA-DRINKERS. MEN who will SHOUT from the rooftops “I’M DRINKING THIS LAPSANG, AND THEREFORE HAVE THE COJONES OF AN OX”

So, for that reason: @AGiftOfTea, the Beasts of Brewdom SALUTE YOU ! Keep up the good work and help us to build the next generation of Beasts.

P.S> Oh, and thanks for the White Peony. Very delicate and delightful. Second steep was definitely the best.

 

It’s time to pull the finger out…

MEN: Specifically, tea-drinking MEN!

That’s the way the blurb for Beasts of Brewdom starts.

I wrote it along the theme that in some countries (that is say the US) there is this perception that tea is a drink for women, girls, the elderly and the rampantly homosexual.

Of course, if a “REAL MAN” believes that drinking tea might suddenly make him wish to get sexually intimate with another gentlemen, then let me tell you, the wish was clearly there long before the kettle boiled.

Well, one thing that “Real Men” and those insidious homosexuals that are lurking around every corner waiting to spread gayness have in common is a prostate.

Your prostate (the name in ancient Greek means protector or guardian) does a bunch of stuff that you really don’t need to know, but let’s just say in comes up in two conversations:

  1. It makes sex better and enhances your ability to reproduce
  2. It gets cancer and you die

Certainly what you’d call a double-edged sword there, chaps.

In order to support raising both funds and awareness of prostate cancer, I’ve decided to join “Movember” and grow a shoddy moustache.

I’m proud of the fact that Movember started in my home town of Adelaide, and is now an international phenomenon.

But I’ve not joined Movember in Australia – I’ve joined it in the US. Naomi Rosen of Joy’s Teaspoon has started the “Mo tea” team and I have joined that.

If you’re reading this, please help in these ways:

  1. Sponsor me to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars or send any gold bars you may have, or
  2. Join and grow one yourself. (Possibly difficult if you happen to be one of those chaps that isn’t a chap.

I’ve written a piece on my reasons and it’s here.

In the meanwhile, enjoy some tea, and start thinking about how you want to join in the conversational on prostate cancer.

My Fundraising page is at : http://mobro.co/TheDevotea

 

The Sipeasy

NOTE: My Forthcoming book has 7 or possibly 8 pieces of tea-flavoured fiction included. Here’s one in draft form. Your comments are welcome.

I’m in a seedy, not exactly legitimate establishment. I’m wearing a trench coat and a hat.

The problem with being a Private Investigator is that sometimes you have to look like a cliché in order to have the client take you seriously.

Even if your client is a known criminal.

When I say “known criminal”, Little Clarence is a respected businessman. Despite their best efforts, the Force have never managed to convict him, or even arrest him, for anything.

No, the reason that I say Little Clarence is a known criminal is that his selling of illicit substances is known to me. Personally.

I’m one of his biggest clients.

Hey – if doctors, lawyers, teachers, journalists, electricians and politicians, just to read the last six months’ headlines – are out there buying and using, then don’t judge me, OK? Sometimes, the law should just leave well enough alone.

So, Little Clarence calls and asks for “a favour”. I’m not really in a position to refuse, am I? So, I amble into LunaLatte.

I sit down where he has a large table to himself, covered in books. A stout walking stick rests across the top.

He passes me a latte. He has a short black himself. I grimace as I taste the fake coffee and fake milk.

“It’s a beautiful sight, isn’t it, Baycroft?”, he asks, pointing at the planet swimming into view through the long, long plastic window that makes up the entire wall of the public parts of this place.

“Sure is, Clarence.” I sip the latte again and regret it again. It’s worse because I know what’s really available here. “But you didn’t ask me in here to watch Earthrise”.

“Let me get straight to the point”, Clarence rasps. “I’ve been robbed”.

I’m immediately concerned. “When you say robbed…”

“All my Lapsang. All my Yunnan. A little Silver Needle. And two artistic balls I was saving for a special occasion. And my A through M order book”

I slumped back as though slapped.

“So you see, Baycroft, you’ve got some skin in the game.”

I considered the situation “It wasn’t The Force?”

“No, the cops are clueless. I’ve walked through customs 29 times now with contraband. Not once have they figured it out. They even stripped me after that ChaSniffer dog went ballistic. Found nothing.”

I make a mental note that I also had no idea how he did it. Turned out to be an unnecessary mental note.

He stood up, grabbing the cane to balance himself.

Of course, he wouldn’t have needed the cane if he still had two legs.

*

Back in my office, I pondered what I had just learned.

Little Clarence was called ‘Clarence’ because his parents were unkind. He was called ‘Little’ because he was very tall, and we appreciate that sort of subtle humour out here at Mooba Cinquo.

He’d just told me he’d started life as just plain Clarence, and as a young adult, he was about 180 tall. Then he hatched a plan. He had his legs amputated, and hollow biomech legs installed. As long as no-one knew the legs were fake, he could stuff them full of contraband.

While he was at it, he increased his height to 202. That’s when he became “Little Clarence”,

He is the guy they can’t catch. It took him two years to afford the coffee lounge, another one to build the Sipeasy out the back. With seven exits across three levels from the lounge and a Rubik’s door into the Sipeasy, the cops can never prove what was going on.

And yes, I am a regular. I never claimed to be a saint. I’d be there two, three times a week, sipping away, not looking at anyone else, just drawing that hot nectar into myself.

So half my income goes on illicit tea. So what? I have no family, so responsibilities to anyone other than myself.

I find in life, someone always wants to interrupt you mid-ponder. And as always, it’s that time.

The buzzer sounds and again I wish that I had a full-time receptionist. It seems she’s never here when I get a visit from a client.

I rise from the desk, somewhat unnecessarily, as the door is kicked in and The Force’s finest stand at my threshold.

“May we come in?”, asks Delaine, his huge bulk smirkingly falling back a tad to allow Crompton ingress.

Ah, Crompton. Not many people know we had a thing going on back when I was on The Force. Small and powerful, androgynous looking, expressionless face.

Known as “The Robot” behind her back. Even by robots.

She sweeps into the room, grabs the leg of my chair and upends me onto the floor.

It’s going to be one of those days. I roll under the desk as Delaine aims a kick. He viciously kicks the metal desk and howls in anger and pain. He draws his Taser.

I press a tricky little button I’ve installed under the desk and roll out.

“Ouch!”, I say, plonking myself back on my chair. “Can I offer the Moon’s finest a cup of coffee?”

Delaine punches me in the stomach but he is off-kilter, and besides, I have implants.

I breathe out suddenly.

“Cocoa? Some water?”

“Listen, Baycroft”. Crompton puts her face near mine.

“We don’t want coffee or cocoa. This is not a social call. What we want is information”.

“There’s an information station just down the hall. On the left, you can’t miss it”, I wheeze, slightly exaggerating my discomfort.

Delaine slaps the back of my head, but then, he’s not much of a conversationalist.

“You just met with Clarence, and we want to know why”, Crompton continued.

“Lost cat”, I said, extemporising in a less plausible manner than I’d hoped. “Back on earth, in his Lima home, he’s lost his cat”.

Crompton puts her face very close to mine, and it’s a less pleasant experience than it once was.

“We asked him, you know? And you know what he told us, Baycroft? He told us he had lost his dog. From his Canberra property”.

“Ah, that’s why I’m not still on The Force”, I observe. “I’m not good with detail”.

This time Delaine’s kick catches me square in the ribs. I tip off the chair, and pretend I’m stunned whilst sprawling across the floor. A great bit of acting, if I do say so myself.

Crompton bends over, and says very deliberately: “We will be back. And you will talk”.

She flounces from the room, Delaine trailing her like a pet rhinoceros.

I right my chair, download the stored kinetic energy from my implants, and press the button again to stop videoing. Two minutes later, the vision is with the Chief of The Force, and that should keep Crompton and Delaine out of my hair for a while.

Next, The Hand Of Lenny.

Sorry about the capitals, but if you’ve got a secret mummified hand, it deserves them.

Back in ’06, when the Mexican Shoe Cartel built the Mooba, they hired Lenny. Leonard Q. Leonard of Arkansas, as he used to introduce himself.

A security expert of some note, he was also a career criminal. He’d just never been caught.

He told me this in a letter I received after he died. Also, he left me his mummified hand. It’s not often that you get a special delivery that both clears up the mystery of your parentage and has a preserved appendage.

He was the ultimate security expert and exposer of white-collar criminals, famous the world over for bringing the very worst embezzlers, hackers and con artists to justice. His only ever failure in a long and industrious career was to track down the White Whale, the greatest criminal of his time; his arch-nemesis, and, it turns out, also him.

The secret died with him. In fact, The White What ran a criminal enterprise for two more years, then vanished – thanks to Lenny’s skill with Artificial Intelligence.

So, he built the security systems up here. And what is shown on the map as a disused and filled in aircon shaft that runs through every room in the entire city is, in fact, a private, secret passage. With a few listening devices, cameras and even a few refreshment stations and a bed or two, if you need to hide out. It’s also scanproof.

It can be entered via secret doors scattered around the place, or access hatches in most rooms.. As long as you have Lenny’s handprint.

It’s easy to see why I am the best PI there is. I can go anywhere, see anything, hear anything and enjoy a beer along the way.

With a suspect in mind, I stepped into the shaft in the usual way, and turned around, only to be pistol-whipped by a vision in blue.

*

Blue corset with odd panels. Pearl-handled revolvers. Serious headache.

All reasonable thoughts, given the circumstances.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, Jupe”.

What? I open my eyes fully and there she is. In blue: two guns, small yellow bag dangling from belt. Dark hair, air of menace. The sort of woman us Private Investigators are supposed to consort with all the time, according to the stories, although you shouldn’t believe all that you read.

It wasn’t a dream.

The lady in question really did offer both something special to look at and a definite air of mystery.

I also had a shrewd idea who she was.

“Yes, yes, I’m the Goddess of Tea”. She looks impatient. “Get your head together, we’ve got work to do”.

While I struggle to be less sprawled across the floor, she checks the time and seems to be consulting an LPS – she obviously doesn’t know these tunnels as well as I did.

“I need you on Earth. I figured you’d want to sort this first, so let’s go check on Arkady”.

I still seem to be a bit behind on current events

“Arkady?”

“Yes”, she says, her impatience obvious. “It’s this way, Jupe”.

There it is again.

I finally get vertical, just as she disappears around the corner. I wobble after her. I’m thinking of those reports of the Goddess of Tea, the vigilante that has upset NestCo ‘s applecart more than once. Sort of a Scarlet Pimpernel, but with added tannins and more sex appeal in the media.

When I get to the corner, she is twenty metres ahead of me. My limbs are starting to feel co-ordinated again, but she’s still halfway up the ladder by the time I get there.

“Stop hanging around, Jupe”. She jumps the next dozen rungs and heads toward AccomoThree.

Four minutes later, we’re at a grille. Arkady’s room is there for both of us to see.

No Arkady. No tea. But there’s something on the bed that tends to hint at the suggestion of a rumour that we’re on the right track.

The missing leg.

Well, this will be easy.

“Sort this out, Jupe, and I’ll see you later”, says my odd companion, ambling back in the direction we’ve just come from.

I nod.

I start by pulling out my little box that kills every video feed at Mooba Cinqo for about four minutes. It’s very handy for when I’m worried about appearing to have gone from one room or another without popping up on a security screen. I check the monitor, press the button, and use The Hand Of Lenny to enter the somewhat unhygienic digs of Arkady Mott. I remove my hat and pull my mini-taser from the lining.

Whilst waiting for him, I ponder my new and somewhat exotic acquaintance. I think I’ve avoided doing so until my head came back on line.

Okay, she was in the tunnels. The only way into the tunnels was with The Hand of Lenny. Or was there another way? Unlikely. Lenny was a freak.

My brain turns to where I didn’t want to go.

The Goddess of Tea has turned up in MY corridor. An international fugitive; she’s not only annoyed the NestCo board who had made Chindian teas illegal in the first place so much that there was a bounty on her head, she’d upset the Democratic People’s Coalition of China, India and Mongolia so much that, at least officially, she was wanted there as well.

Even though she was an international hero to billions of frustrated tea drinkers, I suspected that that was because those billions hadn’t actually met her. Up close she was bossy and a tad violent. I could add presumptive and lacking in social graces like patience, kindness, polite introductions and not hitting people. It seems that the thorn in everyone’s side is now a thorn in mine.

My mind was filling in the backstory. It needed to go deeper, and I was a tad unwilling.

I was six. My sister was five. We’d lived in the home our whole life. When Nic was adopted, we had twenty minutes to say goodbye. She cried. I didn’t understand why she was leaving me. I slapped her and left the room. I never saw her again.

The door opened and interrupted my reverie.

“Arkady!” I exclaim, mildly tasing him. “What a delight to see you again”.

He demonstrates the verb “to crumple” with admirable conviction.

“I didn’t do nothing”, he mumbles from the floor.

I do so hate a double negative.

“Great”, I say. “As long as you’ve done nothing, and therefore I haven’t found this leg in your room, I guess no-one will ever be able to say I beat you to death with it, will they?”.

I shove the leg under Arkady’s arm, take a photo, smile at him, then stash the leg under my coat. I pull open his bottom drawer, fling his tacky clothing on the floor, and find the stash taped to the back.

“You know I get a double bonus if I deliver you to him, right?”, I mention quite conversationally to Arkady, who has the good grace both look ashamed and to wet himself. Perhaps it was the tasing; perhaps not.

“One day, Arkady, you’ll be useful to me. And on that day, I’ll destroy that photo. Until then, stay away.”

I leave through the front door, and make my way across a few blocks to LunaLatte. This time, I go into the bathrooms, select the end cubicle, flush three times and turn the lock counter-clockwise. I open the door, and I’m in The Sipeasy.

The décor is underwhelming, the lighting dim, and the whole place just looks like somewhere I don’t want to be.

I breath.

There it is, the tannins, the leafiness, the impossible anticipation of a cup.

There’s Little Clarence. Or Lopsided Clarence, as a stupider man than me might rename him.

I sit down in silence. He waves, and a small cup of tea arrives in front of me. I can already see it’s a Darjeeling.

I look Clarence in the face, and slowly take a sip.

I withdraw the tea. Then the leg.

He looks grateful for about half a second.

Then two goons appear at my back.

“Finish your tea”,

It all clicks into place.

I know about the leg. He’s not going to let me live.

My mind is racing. What to do? Offer to work for him full-time as trusted goon? Attempt to tase all three of them.

I take another sip.

“I’m grateful, Baycroft”. I can sense the goons reaching for weapons.

I consider throwing the tea in their faces, but, hey, it’s too good. Time to use the old charm. I clear my throat.

“Baycroft, you are not to talk. I like you. I feel bad about this. I don’t want to hear it. Business is business.  Arkady is already dead; you were spotted coming from his rooms. Now finish that Darjeeling. It’s as good as it gets. The last of my ’22 First Flush”.

I calculate angles. Trajectories. Rolling. Tasing. Shouting. Stomping. Crying. Laughing. Phoning my elected representative. Calculating pi to 47 decimal places. Conjugating Latin verbs. Let’s face it, I’m low on ideas.

I reach s-l-o-w-l-y under my coat, and pull out The Hand of Lenny.

I figure a mummified hand will buy me some time. I drain my cup with a flourish and bang it down. I was hoping it would shatter, but pseudochina is a little too tough.

“You can’t buy more time with a mummified hand”.

Clarence starts to nod. All hell breaks loose. Sonically as visually.

Goon One pitches forward. I’d begun to throw myself in that direction. So he just lands on top of me. Goon Two has the good manners to look surprised before collapsing.

I see the counter attendant reach for a cupboard. The hand that is doing the reaching pulls back; it’s now doing some bleeding.

Clarence leaps to his feet – make that his foot – and promptly falls sideways. He looks as bit embarrassed as we both glance at the leg still on the table.

No-one expects projectile weapons on the moon. No-one is insane enough to fire them here. Which makes the two smoking guns, the two dead goons, the counter attendant with the hole in his hand and the ringing in my ears all a bit hard to process.

She points at the counter attendant. “Over here, now”.

He trembles and obeys. She sits him down next to Clarence. A smoke shrouded blue Goddess with twin revolvers.

“Me, I love a bit of violence”, she smiles at them. “So, if it was up to me, I’d just shoot you both.”

Clarence starts to speak, and she shoves a placemat in his mouth.

“Shhh, Clarence – don’t speak while I’m being overly dramatic.” He looks like his eyeballs will explode.

“You see, I need my brother here to help me on Earth. And he’s not that comfortable with killing as a means to an end. So instead, I’ll take your memories”.

Quickly and efficiently, she plunges a syringe into each. They slip into unconsciousness.

I stand up. After giving the inert Clarence a kick – I’m only human – and removing the tea stash from the table, I turn to find my rescuer opening another hatch – with Lenny’s other hand. She slips it back into the dangling bag at her hip.

“Go pack”, she says. “We leave on the next shuttle.”

I quickly exit the Sipeasy, emerging from the bathroom in LunaLatte and consider my next step.

I don’t consider for long.

I’ll be on that shuttle.

Auntie Madge

NOTE: My Forthcoming book has 7 or possibly 8 pieces of tea-flavoured fiction included. Here’s one in draft form. Your comments are welcome.

I hefted the Britannia teapot to chest height. It seemed lighter than when I last lifted it, but then I was twelve back then.

It seems strange that all of Auntie Madge’s stuff went to Kate. Kate, whom I never really knew – I was moving out as a young man when she moved in as a sobbing pale infant, about six years after Mr Penton from New South Wales was Auntie Madge’s Gentleman Sipping Companion.

That’s always what they were called, these men who called on Auntie Madge. Maybe once or twice a year, an unfamiliar car might turn up, an Austin, or one of those new Holdens. A man in a suit and hat would knock at the door, and for a few years after I turned about eleven years old, it was my job to usher them into the sitting room, where china would be laid out.

“Auntie Madge will be just a moment” I would say. “May I take your jacket, hat and teapot, Sir?”.

I still remember the look on Mr Penton’s face. Over the years, I’ve settled on ‘bemusement’. I took his hat and charcoal pinstriped jacket, and then struggled to add the heavy Britannia teapot to my load. I was only around twelve, according to everyone’s best guess.

As always, I hung the jacket and hat, and then took the teapot to the kitchen.

Cook would be boiling the water and adding the still-warm shortbread fingers to a cream-coloured Alfred Meekins plate.

The first pot – the spotted china one – would be ready to take out. I’d gather the tray, and when I arrived back in the sitting room, Auntie Madge would be there. “Jasper”, she’d say, “What have we here?”

“Mah Jongg, Auntie Madge”, I’d recite. “From a fresh box.”

I’d lay the tray down, and Auntie Madge would always produce the same look, as though she’d just had an idea.

“Jasper, please join us, so you can tell Mr Penton about our little place here”.

“Thank you, Auntie Madge”.

They always asked a few questions, and during the exchange, Auntie Madge and the Gentleman Sipping Companion would exchange little smiles. The Gentlemen Sitting Companions always seemed to have an air of anticipated excitement.

Then it would be time for me to fetch boiling water and the pot that the Gentleman Sipping Companion has bought as a gift.

As I left on this occasion, I heard Mr Penton murmur “Remarkable, Mrs Lawson. His manners are astounding, and so well spoken. As good as I’d expect from a white boy, and better than some.”

When I got back, Auntie Madge had the usual small canister out.

“Do try this, Mr Penton. It’s my specially-blended Almond Earl Grey”.

It was always at this point that Cook would round all of us up – be it six or sixteen of us in residence at that time – for a walk to the lake. No-one left out, no excuses. It was called the “Necessary Constitutional”, and it happened at odd times, but always when a Gentleman Sipping Companion was in residence.

We would arrive back hours later with the plates and cups washed and put away, the car gone and Auntie Madge retired to her bedroom with one of her headaches.

So now, I put down the silver pot, and move to fondle a rose coloured china one. And so on – twenty-nine pots in total.

It’s over forty years since Auntie Madge died. Cook tried to flee with the money, the police got involved. Bluey Thompson from the local garage was convicted of selling at least a dozen stolen cars – the cops knew there were more, but settled for a dozen. All sixty-five of us who had ever lived at the Grace of God Home for Unfortunate Children proclaimed our innocence and lack of knowledge of these terrible crimes. Like the local public, we believed that the orphanage was wholly supported by donations. Of course, accounting standards didn’t really exist back then.

I can hold my hand to my heart and say that I did not actually know what was going on. And it was half a century ago.

But of course, I knew something was wrong. I must have.

I left the Grace of God Home for Unfortunate Children at eighteen years old with a scholarship to The University of Melbourne; a bible; some good tea; a bank book with twenty pounds showing in it, a few well-worn and lovingly repaired garments and a charcoal pinstripe suit.

Within a week of arriving in my accommodation in Melbourne, I’d departed. Catching a bus to The Alice, moving back to the tribal existence that Auntie Madge had tried so hard to save me from. I was not to emerge until a few years later, in the mid-Sixties, when I came back to the city to help in the fight for my people to get the right to vote.

Even though it is over fifty years ago, I still remember the moment that I walked from my student accommodation, with just my small wooden tea canister and my second best set of clothes. I left behind in my room in Melbourne my books, my money and my suit.

A suit that I had discovered had a label sewn into the inside of one of the pockets.

A label that said “Arthur Penton”.

Violence is the Answer

I had a cuppa at an old haunt – FINICKY FINGERS in Woodcroft, South Australia. It used to be Café 16, and is the only place nearby that sells loose leaf tea in any great quality – about 20-30 types.

I wanted a LAPSANG SOUCHONG, the MANLIEST OF TEAS, because I have been renovating a room, a very manly pursuit.

It was painfully obvious that, in additional to being unable to pronounce it, they were perpetrating the WORST SORT OF TEA FRAUD, and selling me a cup of tea with some sort of ARTIFICIAL SMOKE FLAVOUR.

I considered SMASHING THE PLACE UP A BIT, but instead, made my point by leaving in a dignified manner, and entirely undrunk “tea” on may table.

THAT WILL SHOW THEM!

Another beast lurks

Many of us on Twitter know Vic Darkwood, the possibly pseudonymic chap who was an early promulgant of The Chap magazine. Whilst he’s not a Beast of Brewdom, he is often referred to as The Beast of Dartmouth Park, and so rates a mention.

I am currently reading Vic’s book “How to Make Friends and Oppress People – Classic Travel Advice for The Gentleman Advernturer”

It has some astonishingly poor advice on making tea – reprinted from Francis Galton’s The Art of Travel (1872) which seems to recommend,  of all things, an eight-minute infusion.

However, such foolishness is not what has driven this entry.

In his own words, Mr Darkwood has described the humble teapot thus:

“Mother Nature, despite some notable design classics such as the banana, the three-banded armadillo and the young Jean Shrimpton, has yet to come up with a form as compellingly beautiful and ergonomically sleek as the teapot. The rotundity of its body – pregnant with promise, the pleasing arabesque of the spout and the jaunty effeminacy of the handle earn it a special place in the British psyche.”

An exceptional description, I think.

 

 

The Devotea goes off.

On my blog, I pretty well ripped Australia Post a new one. My second quite angry post in a row.

That’s what happens when life interferes with tea.

It’s here: 

© 2021 Beasts Of Brewdom

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑