Friday, 20 April 2007

Tea and ……

I’d been walking up and down the same stretch of pavement for some time before I caved in and rang the person I was going to visit for directions.

The rest of the journey involved a rather steep incline which left me breathless and rosy cheeked when I reached the top. Although I had a very light sweat on my forehead and was glowing, I very much doubted that this was the soul reason I had been invited in for a cup of tea. The kettle was already boiled when I arrived and the offer of refreshment was almost rehearsed.

It was strange to be invited in for tea. I had completed many freecycle* transactions before and been met at back doors and had items thrust at me, the interiors of the owner’s homes shrouded by their shadow in the doorway, barely passing the time of day, my cheery, genuine thanks falling on deaf ears as they return to decorating the nursery, or clearing out the loft.

The kitchen in which I sat was chaos and clutter, acting as a dining room and an office too, I got the full story. Back bedrooms and attic were jam packed with one of her son’s belongs, he had had an extension built and had needed extra storage space, only he’d not taken the stuff back yet, leaving her shoved into the kitchen.

‘Chocolate biscuit?’ she offered before she disappeared amidst the fax machine, unpacked shopping and the shelves that had fallen off the wall under the weight of a life time’s collection of now redundant baking equipment. I looked at the remaining shelves piled high with paperwork and crockery, clutching my tea and ducking my head, expecting them too to fall at any moment.

My hostess emerged from her makeshift parlor with a well stocked biscuit tin. ‘Here, have as many as you like, I won’t have one, I’m dieting.’ Her gaze lingered on longer than it should have on the biscuit I selected as I ate it. ‘I don’t know how long they’ve been there,’ the well stocked biscuit tin seemed suddenly less appetising as my taste buds acknowledged the stale and almost dusty palate of the biscuit I was eating, ‘I’ve been dieting for a while, I’ve not lost any as such, but at least I’ve stopped putting it on.’ I sympathised , perhaps a little too much, as the rest of her story poured out.

It was all about time management. She’d stopped the weight accumulating but she’d not got the time to burn the excess off. She was her disabled son’s carer you see, and by the time she’d got him ready and off for day care she’d barely time to wash her hair and turn around again before he was back and in need of his tea.

I noticed the range of medication on the table. Perhaps it was for her disabled son, though I strongly suspected that the large supply of SEROXAT was hers.

I declined a second biscuit, gave her cheery and genuine thanks and hoped that the weather would hold off in time for her to get her washing dry. Then I made my way down the incline, glad that it was downhill all the way home.

*Freecycle - online community where people give away their unwanted stuff rather than throw it away.


Kay Richardson said...

What type of tea was it?

Hope you're cool?


slubomirski said...

I really enjoyed reading this and all your other posts on your page today. You have a simplicity and directness in your writing that is awesome. You really should have a go at doing a book, perhaps with some of my photographs!?

Best regards, Stefan

Anna said...

Ah, the joys of freecycle - I freecycle a lot of stuff but mainly give away rather than receive and I must say I am one of the culprits who keeps the actual handover of items fairly brief. I run down to the entrance to the block of flats I live in and thrust the item at them with a big grin and "there we are, enjoy!" - I did feel a bit mean though when one lady handed me a thank you card. On one occasion when I did get something for me I took round hand made biscuits in thanks though so I guess that sort of makes up for it