Tuesday, November 13, 2012
You, Me and a Cup of Tea
This limited edition book is a collection of 175 stories from tea drinkers from across the UK including Tetley Tea employees, families affected by cancer, who have been supported by CLIC Sargent, and then a handful of British celebrities. To be honest, I didn't know very many of the celebrities, though, only Jane Asher, Derren Brown, Melanie C, Bryan Ferry, Katie Melua, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Alan Titchmarsh, but then again, I'm not British. Most of the stories are told by "ordinary people", anyway, sharing their "magical" tea memories as Tetley puts it.
When you read the book, the first thing that you'll notice is that this is just a 112 pages long Tetley tea ad. As such it is not a very good read and the main reason for buying this book would be to support CLIC Sargent, as proceeds from the sale of the book go to this charity.
The second thing you'll notice is that the "magical" memories are all more or less the same. You can divide them into only 9 categories, the categories being:
1. Tea consumed in connection with pregnancies/births
2. Drinking tea with friends/family
3. Having your husband/children bring you a cup of tea in bed
4. Drinking tea when being asked to become a bridesmaid/Godmother
5. Drinking tea with celebrities
6. Drinking tea in bad weather
7. Missing Tetley tea when you are abroad
8. Celebrating new careers with tea
9. Comforting yourself with tea after having received bad news
Statistically you'll find 19.4 stories in each category, although some categories are more frequent than others. The most frequent are stories about mothers and daughters who live in separate countries but stay in touch on Skype while drinking tea. It is pretty boring having to read the same kind of stories over and over again, but at least it's better than the so-called "poems" that some people have written about their special tea moment. These poems are all clumsy and embarrassing to put it mildly.
I must say that I'm rather surprised that the stories vary so little. One should think that when you ask the British nation to share their most special tea moments, you'd come up with something better than "I had a cuppa with my nan" or "we were drinking tea when my friend asked me to be her bridesmaid". It seems that people never do anything interesting while drinking tea, or maybe the people contributing just have very boring lives?
I would have thought that a strong tea-drinking nation like the UK would have had better stories to tell, but no. In fact I had a hard time coming up with some favourite stories from the book as they are all more or less the same, but in the end I found 3 stories that were a bit extraordinary. One is by Helen Brannagan who discovered that her blind son is able to distinguish contrast colours. Another is by Jonny McNee who tells about making his first cup of tea at the age of 19 - this guy can really write! And finally there is illusionist Derren Brown's contribution about why it's often a bad idea to meet your idols - this guy can write, too.
I guess with a book like "You, Me and a Cup of Tea", the idea is that you're not supposed to read it from cover to cover. It is after all a "tea table book", suited only to flick through and then maybe read a page here and there. And at least the book looks nice with lots of photos and a pretty layout, but it really could do with some proofreading. I've never seen so many typos in a single book before!
"You, Me and a Cup of Tea" can be ordered from www.tetley.com and it costs £7.99.
Three out of five stars: ***
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