What is the worst thing that could happen when you move house? Turn your mind to this for a moment. The moving truck getting lost? Or getting broadsided by a Hummer and exploding in fragments of your best china? Or your new house being destroyed by a meteorite, leaving nothing but smoking ruins to welcome you on your arrival? No – the worst thing that can happen is what happened to us.
Imagine: it is the morning after the epic move (which went surprisingly smoothly, actually). You drag your exhausted self out of bed and down the stairs to the kitchen, where you clamber over the piles of boxes to reach those life-giving essentials which you have had the foresight to unpack first: the kettle and the tea.
Only to find (insert horror chord here) that the kettle has sprung a leak in the night, and will no longer hold water. There will be No Cup of Tea.
Let me just give that its proper emphasis: there will be NO CUP OF TEA!
As Macduff so aptly put it, “Confusion now hath made his masterpiece.” The kettle was broke ope and the life of the building stole forth, by which I mean the water for my tea. Dire news indeed.
I was forcibly reminded of the morning of the first Canterbury quake, when after a rude and violent awakening at half past four in the morning, we had to wait until dawn to check the chimney was sound before we could fire up the log-burner, put a pot of water on top and wait for it to slowly inch its way toward boiling. (Some log-burners these days are designed for use as stoves in electricity-less emergencies. This was not one of them.) It was just starting to steam when the power mercifully came back on.
While we waited, however, I got a message from a friend on the other side of town who had a camp stove and who was, she informed me, sipping a hot cuppa as she texted. I may have considered trekking across miles of fractured streets and fording the Heathcote and Avon rivers in order to murder her in what would have been cold blood but for all the exercise – but I refrained. That would only delay the point in time at which tea and I would converge. Because while I might slaughter a friend for an ill-considered text, I wouldn’t dream of then drinking their tea over their cold dead body. I have my standards.
Returning, however, to the present. We were saved in our hour of need by the kindness of family who had a kettle going spare, which we went and snaffled as soon as we decently could, viz: after getting dressed and eating something, so as not to faint from inanition. And then we returned, rejoicing, to luxuriate in that historic beverage: the first ever cup of tea in our own home.
Or at least, I did. The Caped Gooseberry, despite my best attempts to convert him, remains what Don Pedro would call “an obstinate heretic in despite of tea” (if he had thought of it, or met him, or, in fact, existed).
When was the worst time you ever got caught without a cuppa?