Writing Greenwood Tree – and more

Posts tagged “tea

Save-a-word-Saturday 10

save  a word Saturday image

(Full rules here : The Feather & the Rose)
1. Create a lovely blog post that links back to this one.

2. Pick an old word you want to save from extinction to feature in your blog post. Luciferous Logolepsy is a great database of lovely old words.

3. Provide a definition of your word. Use your word in a sentence (or even a short paragraph) vaguely related to the theme chosen for the week.

4. Add your post to the linky list below (it’s down there somewhere). Then hop to as many other blogs as you can in search of as many wonderful words as possible!

5. Use as many of the words as you can on the people in your life.

Cripes, nearly missed this week’s again ! Got in by the skin of me teeth ….
                                                                                                                                                Theme: Scarf-a-Scone Saturday
                                                                                                                                       Chosen words: madefy (verb) : to wet
                                                                                                                                                                           magirology(noun):  art of cookery
The bear stomped into the kitchen,  sniffing out honey pots and teabags.‘Tea,’ he growled, as the wind outside blew its cracked cheeks, ‘tea and scones….’The oven required a certain amount of work with the bellows, and the flour was rather furry – however, he was not to be done out of his required sustenance, and half an hour later, a steaming bear sat before the fire,  stretching his madefied toes towards a healthy, roaring fire,  slurping his tea and stuffing his face with magirological delights.Who can beat  a scone, eh….
(Now off to hunt for some …)
hmmm… jammy ones… he’ll like those ….

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

On tea, elephants and cabbages

” ‘. . .do have some more toast, or something . . . shall I pour you another cup ?’

Aunt Isobel reigned over the silver pot like a determined if somewhat vague and inept hare; one with a busy day ahead.  ‘I’ve been talking to Charlie, and as I really need to have the place cleaned up before the ball, I suggested a trip of some sort, and Charlie mentioned – ’

 ‘Yes what fun I thought as we’ve always liked we could you know try the what’s it called where we used to go not far from Morton Manor you remember and eat at Harlequin’s just outside Fradley what do you think?’ Charlie dive-bombed a sausage and continued munching industriously.  Julia gazed down at her grey porridge, and regretted her choice. If not immediately eaten, it had a habit of sitting there, congealed, and looking solidly back at one. She poked at it nervously.

‘Which place did we use to go to? There were so many.’

Tea trickled out of the spout.

‘I think Charlie means the old ruins by the river. I must say, I can’t see the others taking much interest in that, but the idea of Harlequin’s ought to appeal to everyone.’ Aunt Isobel had evidently found this most recent batch of Bunty’s acquaintances more than a little trying. There was a rare tinge of determination in her demeanour this morning, connected with the polishing of silver and the waxing of floors that would, however delicately, brook no argument.

 ‘That sounds wonderful. Lovely idea.’  Julia tried to swallow the porridge. She gratefully accepted Isobel’s offer of a cup, and forced the glutinous mass down with molten liquid. After she’d finished spluttering, she inquired when they should start. ”

 Greenwood Tree, Chapter 11

I have been told by a reliable source and authonomy chum that Greenwood Tree contains oodles of tea. I have not yet made a head count of every cup that is poured . . . but I suppose there is a fair amount of pouring, stirring, slurping throughout. Verisimilitude is my only defence. Gossiping ? Put the kettle on. Freshly arrived home from the big city ? Put the kettle on. House guests at the breakfast table ? Put the kettle on. (A good hostess who did not supply her visitors with plentiful supplies of the stuff was simply not doing her job). Just been hit on the head by unseen assailant ? Put the kettle on. No wait, stop, I  don’t think I put tea in that particular scene, actually . . . but they probably did anyway, whether I wrote it in or not. Indeed, every British film ever made would be incomplete without a gentle pouring from the spout. A comforting sound, redolent with promise of things to come (did someone mention fondant fancies ? I’m quite happy with a jam tart, more likely a sandwich . . )

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Twining was the man of the hour : after starting out as weaver’s apprentice, he then moved into commerce and ended up converting the drinking habits of a nation – in the face of coffee culture Britain (at least, London) he saw a niche in the market and seized it – so you can blame it all on him. Nobody suffers from a surfeit of tea in Greenwood, at least, I have had no complaints from the characters to date (“I say, old thing,” says Richard, pulling at my sleeve, ‘couldn’t pass the scones along, could you ?”, while Aunt Iz pours out another cup . . .)


Among all the rites, rituals, customs and paraphernalia surrounding tea, I can’t leave off without mentioning at least the evolution of the teapot . . . from genteel Wedgewood to cheeky Japanese elephants through political comment on stamp duty(see here : http://teapotsteapotsteapots.blogspot.com/2009/04/1765-no-stamp-act-teapot.html
back to the humorous, bizarre, even grotesque pots, designed to represent various vegetables : cabbages, cauliflowers, corn cobs .  . . I wonder they didn’t suffer from indigestion just looking at the squat horrors, in their unrepentant gaudiness . . . (wraps wet towel around head) …am in need of tea sustenance; when I am feeling stronger, I might, just might write about tea caddies. . .

 Quote : “I comfort myself, that all the enemies of tea cannot be in the right”(Dr Johnson in defence of tea, while reviewing Mr Hanway’s Essay on Tea (http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Texts/tea.html )


(The English Tea Set in the slideshow was photographed byJenny O’Donnell)

 A history of Twinings here : http://www.twinings.co.uk/about-twinings/history-of-twinings

 Some interesting details on Mr Twining, tea-merchant here : http://www.twickenham-museum.org.uk/detail.asp?ContentID=176

  Japanese elephant teapot here : (he is rather cute)http://thebluelantern.blogspot.com/2009/12/im-little-teapot.html

 A well-illustrated history of tea gardens  : janeaustensworld.wordpress.com


  A fine assortment of tea services here : http://naturalisticspoon.com/Rococo_Tea_Equipage.html

 A delightful gallery of living 18th century history from re-enactors :


 Tea trends from the British Tea Council : teawithmarykate.wordpress.com


 V&A ceramics gallery : http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/masterpieces-of-ceramics-timeline/

Tea, gossip and The London Mob

MRS RAWNSLEY : Did you mention the Edsops were there ?
MRS GLASS : Only the vicar, as Mrs Edsop was away.
MRS RAWNSLEY : She has been absent on other occasions, I believe.
MRS GLASS : That now puts me in mind of a rather singular incident. Sir Morton mentioned his not having seen the lady in church the previous two Sundays, and the vicar then said she had gone to stay with a relative in Fradley.
MRS RAWNSLEY : I never knew she had family there.
MRS GLASS : Nor did I. Nor did anyone there. Then young Mr Warren pipes up, and recalls stopping over at Armitage on his way home from ‘Varsity, and swears he saw a lady very like Mrs Edsop, in walk and manner of dress, stepping across the town square. He did not finish, and Mr Edsop supposes he imagined it, but the young man is most insistent about it – is all set to quarrel on the matter, even to the point of suggesting that she was on the arm of an unknown gentleman – after which Mr Edsop grows very heated, and asks whether the young man is not trying to put a slur on a lady’s honour. Then young Mr Crewe joins in, even more heated, and as good as challenges young Mr Warren outright – though why he should want to involve himself, I cannot imagine . . .
(stirs tea vehemently).
MRS RAWNSLEY : He always seems a very upright, honest sort of young man to me –
MRS GLASS : That may be : I would not presume to judge; in any case, just as all seemed set to burst out, Sir Morton and the Italian gentleman intervened, and we finished the game almost amicably . . . and Sir Morton was so good as to hand me into the carriage himself.
MRS RAWNSLEY : I find it very shocking.
MRS GLASS : I can assure you, Mrs Rawnsley, that had any of the other ladies been unaccompanied, he would have done as much for them – he is the very soul of propriety . . .
MRS RAWNSLEY : What are you talking about, Mrs Glass ?
MRS GLASS : What are YOU talking about, Mrs Rawnsley ?
MRS RAWNSLEY : Why, young Mr Warren. To be so very definite, and on such a delicate matter –
MRS GLASS : I do not know that I am so much surprised myself. A close creature always, ever since Mr Edsop brought her from wherever he found her ; I always suspected he would rue the day. With such a young woman, of such mysterious background . .well, one never knows . . .
(taps teaspoon knowingly against cup).
MRS RAWNSLEY : Your Fanny would have made such a proper matron for the place. How is she, by the bye ?
MRS GLASS : Perfectly well; I do not think she ever gave him a second thought, such a plain man he was. . . no, the thought was all mine. . . but he would not have done – my Fanny needs a more lively and elegant companion to suit her ways . . .
MRS RAWNSLEY : Doubtless she will find such a one at the next ball, Mrs Glass.
MRS GLASS : More tea, Mrs Rawnsley?

(Excerpt, Chapter Two, Greenwood Tree)

The two ladies’ chatter is not perhaps quite on a level to cause real damage – but had the contents of their gossip been repeated in a public place some twenty or so years earlier, those involved might well have ended up in court for defamation.
Reputation in the 18th century was everything, an essential requisite for business, trade, the finding of a good match in marriage; slander and loose tongues could wreak mayhem in families and communities – yet the Georgian era bore witness to a change of social language and attitude, and saw a steady decline in defamation lawsuits over the 18th century.
All of this and much more is gone into with great detail by Robert Shoemaker (Professor of History at Sheffield University) in his book ‘The London Mob’ ; from Defamation to Gossip, from Riots and Mobs to Duels and Boxing Matches, he covers a wide range of social interaction and rebellion, the attendant changes in law and the evolution of a civic code.

On the question of gossip for instance, in chapter 3 (Public Insults) he observes that defamation suits in early 18th century London played a large part in court business, although interestingly, the gentry tended to be less involved. Despite the popular conception that slander was the domain of women, a great many perpetrators are shown to be men of fashion, usually indulging in casting slurs as some form of entertainment, although up to 1780 women still outnumbered men by 65%. He then demonstrates how public and social behaviour and attitudes towards the business of defamation changed over the succeeding years by focussing on the conversion of the dangerous scold to the less harmful gossip. According to an account from 1750 of a typical Sunday evening, between four and ten in the evening the local poor women in London suburbs would bring their chairs out into the street and “sit with their constant gossips, and pass verdicts on people . . .”

A further illustration of how domesticated gossip had become is by the fact that it was “exchanged primarily over the tea table (rather than on the streets)”; there was even a pamphlet was issued in 1760, ‘The New Art & Mystery of Gossiping’, apparently offering a list of women’s gossip clubs.
Shoemaker also points out how much blander gossip had become in drama since Restoration times; all in all, he suggests, Gossip had lost its power to damage Reputation.

Gossip : “exchanged primarily over the tea table"

Street life, punishment, riots, violence and the process of law: Professor Shoemaker shows, in clear and accessible language, the various changes in perception and behaviour, the transition from public to private in these various areas – whereby insults in the street declined, outdoor crimes became private homicides, and violence was progressively hidden behind closed doors.

‘The London Mob’ is a lively, informative book, offering a vivid picture of life in London across the 18th century. It contains excellent reference material and is well-illustrated with contemporary prints, including works by Gillray, Rowlandson and Hogarth; indeed, few works on 18th century social life would feel complete without Hogarth’s Gin Lane.

Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction requiring a background to Georgian England, whether you are boning up for a social history thesis, or whether you love anything pertaining to the Age of Enlightenment, this is a highly entertaining read.

Thoroughly recommended; more on this anon . . .

(Robert Shoemaker is also co-director of The Old Bailey Proceedings : http://www.oldbaileyonline.org, database of all printed trial accounts 1674-1834)

Other links which might be of interest : Smuggled tea

Georgian Gentleman (on the Gordon Riots : The Gordon Riots at first hand)