CONTENTS - SCROLL DOWN FOR NEW FRONT PAGE STORY - TEA
THE WEBSITE OF AUTHOR JANET GOGERTY
READ ABOUT THE NOVELS AND COLLECTIONS
VISIT THE AUTHOR'S LOCAL AREA AND CATCH UP WITH THE LATEST SEASONAL SHOTS
SEASIDE SCENES - 20 COASTAL SPOTS - HOW MANY CAN YOU SPOT?
TRAVEL NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND
A REGULAR BLOG ABOUT PEOPLE AND PLACES ILLUSTRATED IN TECHNICOLOUR
FOCUS ON TWO NOVELS AVAILABLE FOR 99 PENCE
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND - NEW REVIEW
QUARTER ACRE BLOCK - READ THE BACKGROUND STORY
PLUS SHORT STORIES - THREE VERY DIFFERENT TALES FOR YOUR COFFEE BREAK
Emily carefully unwrapped the tissue from around each piece until the whole tea set stood in splendour on the table in her new parlour. It was Aunt Bess’ wedding present to her and they both smiled in delight. Emily hardly dared pick up the exquisite pieces; white bone china with delicate flowers.
‘That’s strange, Aunty, six tea plates, six saucers and seven cups.’
Aunt Bess laughed. ‘I was lucky to get that extra cup; wrap it back up and hide it somewhere safe. I remember the beautiful tea set my Mother-in-law gave me; a fortnight after the wedding I managed to break a cup. I was heartbroken and hardly dared tell her; I kept hoping no more than four people would ever visit me for tea.’
‘Did she ever find out?’
‘No, because my Mother and sisters helped me search every china shop in London for a replacement; we just made it in time before she came to visit with four other relatives. But you enjoy your tea set, it’s there to be used; hold that cup up to the light.’
Emily held the cup up towards the sun streaming in through the window; looking inside the cup it was translucent.
‘That’s the proof it is quality bone china’ announced her Aunt. ‘I never drink my tea out of anything else; it stays hot and tastes delightful.’
Emily’s Aunt had been right; at eighteen she had a lot to learn about being a good wife and running a town villa with only one maid to help; but everyone always said what a nice cup of tea they had when they came to visit. Her young husband also had a lot to learn; working his way up through his father’s business, managing the family finances and how to be a good husband. But he was proud when his mother, sisters and aunts told him how they enjoyed taking afternoon tea in Emily’s parlour.
Over their fifty years of marriage and family life there were good times and bad times, but Emily always found her afternoon cup of tea a great comfort and reviver. She had many friends and relatives visit her parlour, especially in the early years and when Aunt Bess came she never asked if the spare cup had been needed yet. The bone china was strong; there were near misses and a few bounces, but by the time Aunt Bess passed away she had never broken a cup.
Inevitably, one day a cup did get broken, but by that time Emily had forgotten where she had hidden the spare cup. It didn’t really matter; occasionally she had four visitors, but usually two or three. By the time she was a grandmother it was all mugs and tea bags, but Emily never put her lips to anything except bone china.
When she became a great grandmother there were only two cups, three plates and four saucers left. The house was still full and she wasn’t alone in her widowhood. Her unmarried daughter had never left and one of her sons brought his family back to live, under circumstances she didn’t quite understand but was grateful for; glad the big house was still a family home.
Her lifelong friend Violet came for afternoon tea at least once a week and Emily would joke ‘We mustn’t break another cup because I still can’t remember where the spare one is!’
When Violet died she had no one left of her generation and rarely left her parlour, as she still called it. Every afternoon her granddaughter brought her tea in the one remaining cup and they enjoyed looking out at the garden and chatting. Emily would often say Make sure this house stays in the family after I’m gone; I wouldn’t want it being demolished and flats built like most of the villas in the avenue.
At Emily’s funeral tea in the parlour, they drank tea and coffee and ate sandwiches using an assortment of pottery from BHS and Wilkinson’s. But they poured the first cup of tea into Emily’s cup and cheered her memory. A few day’s later, her great grand daughter tried to arrange the famous tea cup on the mantelpiece with the flowers and photos; the cup somehow slipped, fell and smashed. Tearfully she arranged the broken pieces around Emily’s favourite plant in the garden.
‘But Great Grandma said we must keep this house in the family, how can we bear to leave it Dad?’
‘I know how you feel, but we stretched ourselves to the limit keeping the house going. My redundancy was the last straw and we’ve got your great aunt and your granddad to care for. That developer is making us an offer we can’t refuse; we’ve had a family conference and decided to go ahead. We’ll make sure that everyone has some of her special things then we’ll take all the odds and ends down to her favourite charity shop.’
Felicity stepped into the charity shop to look for nice bright plant pots for her new flat. She never looked at clothes or crockery in these shops, because of her germ phobia; but suddenly her eyes alighted on a lonely cup hiding behind hideous ornaments. It looked as good as new, but holding it up, seeing its translucence, admiring its delicate pattern, she somehow knew it was very old. Felicity handed over fifty pence and it was wrapped in newspaper and shoved in an old plastic bag. On the way home she stopped at the trendy new delicatessen and bought a packet of loose leaf tea. Her tiny flat was in a new block of twelve, Emily Villas, built on the sight of the last old house to be demolished in The Avenue. In her little kitchenette, she put the kettle on and got out the little china tea pot her aunt had given her. Soon she was delicately sipping from the lovely cup; it was the best cup of tea she had ever tasted.
FOR MORE STORIES TURN TO CHAPTER SIX
FIND STORIES FROM FLASH FICTION TO NOVELAS IN 'SOMEONE SOMEWHERE'