Cornershop’s Tjinder Singh On The Britisher’s Cup Of Tea

Our Quietus At Leisure series continues with Tjinder Singh lamenting the decline of the relaxed art of tea drinking

Sitting down to a calm cup of char. Hand made cup & saucer. A rather handy weapon of a teapot (in the right hand). God-given leaves, hand picked by a village of ladies who are hopefully getting well paid for it. For hope is what it is all about. Hope and reflection. The clink of served tea apparatus is like waiting for the start of yr vinyl record to bust. The pouring process is like the conductor tapping their baton, and the rest is pure symphony.

When we were growing up in the Black Country, or as Slade put it "down our way," as in most Asian families the tea was constantly on the boil – every 23 minutes, even faster if visitors came round, and they regularly did. The news of the day was not over the garden fence, or on the doorstep, but in the kitchens being overheard from the pantry of every self-respecting Wog household.

The Indian way of making tea is to heat water, add tea, and sugar and cardamom and cinnamon & whatever else you require & leave to reach boiling point, for as long as it takes to get yrself up to date with all the shit that’s going down, especially if Dave Hill or Enoch Powell were to drop in.

The television remote control was for other children a chore, a heavy responsibility to behold, but in an Asian household it was a rather handy weapon, with which to conduct whose turn it was next, to make the tea. I hear sheet music again.

Going back to finishing off that tea – after bringing to boil, add milk and let it simmer for as long as further gossip does hold.

A bad cup of tea though, is like the chalkboard rubber being chucked at you in the middle of a maths lesson, for a maths lesson is a maths lesson, not a wiggle yr pencil lesson.

Thankfully, the Commonwealth is not like it used to be, but in India as with England and most of the modern world, it is a sad footnote that denotes the traditional, time consuming hot cup of char, or even coffee, is being outpaced by Fanta and Rola Cola. Does nobody like to chat nowadays? I say, …he’s gone.

The health benefits of a good tea cup are continually applauded & demoted, but I certainly feel tanned. However, due to the tonnage that I drink I’m a furry old, copper kettle myself, still longing for Lyons tearooms to return as much as vinyl records and Willie Rushton. There is hope and there is reflection.

Tjinder Singh, p&c ample play 2009.

Cornershop’s new album Judy Sucks Lemon For Breakfast is out on July 27th

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