24 October 2010
tea and tears
There was always a pot of tea on the kitchen table when I was a child, along with a bottle of off-white sterilised milk (stera!) and a bowl of sugar, but I never took to it like the rest of the family. I came round to tea eventually when I realised that it doesn't have to be taken dark brown and sweet, and I've been making up for my late start by hoarding teapots ever since. Teapots for any occasion - everyday teapots; posh ones for when guests come for tea; a large one for funeral teas, teapots with broken spouts that would be better off in the bin. It is faintly ridiculous.
I find nowthat I am much more likely to choose a cup of tea if I feel a little fragile or in need of revival which is why I ended up with a pot of tea in the cafe of the Foundling Museum yesterday. We had gone to see the Threads of Feeling exhibition (reviewed here) and came out of it a little tear-stained and in need of restoration. Scraps of fabric, sleeves, cockades and ribbons, tiny bonnets were left by mothers or cut off of clothes by the hospital clerks and attached to the entries in the Foundling Hospital's detailed records of each foundling's condition on arrival. Notwithstanding the historical importance of these textiles, each scrap embodies a small tragedy. It was immensely moving. Make sure you have a handkerchief with you if you go.