Monday, 22 July 2013

Red Tea and Royal Births


'Daddy! Daddy!  Can I have some red tea, please?'

Red tea?

'I don't think I have any red tea son, just normal tea'

'You have, Daddy, I want red tea.  Pleeeeze? Pleeeeze Daddy?'

Having been asked so nicely I was reluctant to let my little boy down but, red tea?  What the hell is red tea?

Any parent will know that young children develop their own language.  For example, when Alex asks me for hot chocolate, what he really means is a cold milk chocolate Nesquik.  Other little quirks he has are due to being only four yet having to master both English, the language I use with him, and Pork and Cheese, the language Marcia and everyone else around him uses.  The correct way to say, 'give me' in Portuguese is 'Dar-me' but he uses the local street patois and says, 'Me dar'. 

I recall once asking my Grandfather why he always wore a hat when we were out walking.  ‘How else,’ he enquired of me, ‘could a gentleman pay a compliment to a Lady?’  And, if you think about it, it’s true.  As a Gentleman of the old school, he always raised his hat to a passing lady during his perambulations while politely wishing them the time of day.  The other bit of advice he gave me, by the way, was that a Gentleman was someone who did whatever he liked so long as it caused no offence.  I really liked that definition, absent as it was of any snobbery.  He could knock back one Schnapps after another while eating Eisbein mit Sauerkraut shoulder to shoulder with Hamburg dockers chummily calling him by his Christian name, Ernst, and the next evening as Diepenbrock von Borken, another facet of the brilliant cut diamond he was, mix it with royalty.

I confess to being a snob at times.  Saying 'me dar' rather than 'dar-me' is equivalent to saying, 'me and my mate', rather than, 'my friend and I'.  Sadly here, it is a vocal distinction between the educated and the unwashed masses.  Not a measure of intelligence, by any means, but of breeding.  I find it ironic in the extreme that I am correcting his Portuguese.  

I feel sorry for Alex.  Not only does he have to cope with two entirely different languages, he has to cope with entirely different constructions.  The English would say, ‘I found a black rock’.  Alex, using the construction of a romantic language says, ‘me find rock black.’  As far as he is concerned, he’s got his message across which, after all, has to be the essential point of verbal communication.

So what the hell did he mean by red tea?

He goes over to Rico’s place a lot and being South Africans, they have Rooibos Tea made, unsurprisingly, from the Rooibos plant indigenous to South Africa.  A brew of that is as red as any plant infusion I have ever seen but in my opinion, as disgusting as the various herb teas my Grandmother would force down my throat as a child for every infant ailment, real or imagined.  The South Africans claim all sorts of medicinal benefits for Rooibos Tea and given the general meaty robustness of the average Boer, I shan’t argue with any of them.  Besides, I did not have any Rooibos tea so could not help Alex on that score and told him so.

Five minutes later, he was back in my room clutching a bag of Ceylon tea.

‘This’, he announced, ‘is red tea’

OK, I thought, let’s take this a step at a time.

‘So how do I make red tea, son?’

He sighed and rolled his eyeballs like all kids exasperated with their stupid parents do, shot off to the kitchen and returned with the small stainless steel tea pot I use to brew my morning tea.

‘You put water in here, Daddy, and then you make it hot’

So I placed the filled pot on the stove and lit the gas.  Normally, I would just leave the pot and push off to do something else in the meantime; watch the news, catch up on my emails, that sort of thing but this time, with Alex in charge, we stood guard over the pot.  Three months and a 25kg bottle of gas later, the watched pot gave up and came to the boil.

‘Now what?’ I asked.

Alex produced his tea bag and told me to put it in the pot.

Now so far, I hadn’t done anything different to my usual morning tea routine.  I grabbed a tea towel and carried the steaming pot to our room and placed it on the table.  Alex dug out his special mug while I found a clean spoon, dragged the sugar out of the cupboard and the milk out of the fridge.  With all the makings to hand, I waited for further instructions.

Alex lifted the tea bag out of the pot and even though I offered, insisted on personally dumping it in the bin.

‘Shall I pour?’ I asked him.

‘Yes please’, he said quickly followed by ‘Chega! (enough)’

‘Sugar, Alex?’

‘Yes please’

‘Milk?’

‘NO DADDY!  I want RED TEA!’

Aah! Now how do I explain to him that for the English, tea is either black or white yet, with the evidence of his own eyes, he can see it is either red(ish) or milky?

Any Royal birth is mildly auspicious and that of the third in line to the British throne no less so.  If this child lives to the grand old age of 87, it will be the first British Monarch of the 22nd Century.  Along with, yet bored by, a frenzied media, I did wonder what reason for the delay these last few days, after all, Her Majesty, leading by example, has instilled punctuality in her offspring.  I was two weeks overdue and just look where my tardiness led me.

Team Britain seems to have been enjoying a sporting renaissance recently and I could imagine Palace media consultants respectfully reminding HRH of the advantages of the Royal birth coinciding with some event of national significance in order to make it memorable.  I put my money on yesterday gambling that England would thrash the Aussies, Froome would win the Tour de France and Westwood would enjoy success at the open.  What better day for a future King, or Queen, to be born?  Lee Westwood, however, succumbed to nerves squandering a three shot lead but was commendably too polite to blame the Palace who had placed him under unbearable pressure to complete the desired triple.  You try concentrating on that oh so crucial putt with the knowledge that a bogie could cost you your head.

Denied the triple, Palace officials informed the expert team of consultants and midwives to do whatever necessary to delay the birth by one day.  Although a ‘second best’ scenario, Monday the 22nd of July is a very good second choice.

The future King or Queen, (I’m betting Queen, I have some losses with Ladbroke’s to recover and why else all this fuss about suddenly changing the rules of accession?) will be born on the same day as Cro Magnon.

Happy Birthday, Cap’n Cro, you old Pirate!  Alex and I toast you with a glass of Red Tea.

40 comments:

  1. Well it's on its way, but whether it will put in an appearance today or tomorrow is another waiting game that Mother Nature and the two new parents-to-be are doubtless enjoying, (birthing pains not withstanding for one of them). So the Lindo Wing is still the Limbo Wing, as christened by some media wags, doubtless bored out of their skulls...some US neyworks having waited since the beginning of July.

    Alex's description is perfectly correct if one things about it, and like some many quirks of the English language, defies logic. One obvious one should have popped into my head, but of course eludes me as I write this.

    My father always wears a hat, but that's to keep his head warm. He also always wears a collar and tie; but that's to keep his neck warm. In the summer he dispenses with the tie. All makes sense really.

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    1. So what should it be my favourite spy? La Marseillaise (considering Cro lives in France), the National Anthem or The Red Flag in honour of Alex's tea?

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    2. I imagine the expectant mother would prefer a bit of silence; I hope the windows are triple-glazed. Lordy, what a media circus. Future births should perhaps be at Buckingham Palace, (as they were previously), allowing members of the Royal Family a modicum of privacy from the oldest, (Philip) to the newest, (baby Cambridge) in their medical requirements whether coming in or out of their lives.

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  2. I'm with Alex. I want only red tea! But I want milk, well, some combo of milk, cream and soy milk in my coffee. Maybe he wouldn't like that...

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    1. Soy milk in tea? That's truly disgusting.

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    2. Soy milk in tea? Bean juice in tea? That's Democrat, anti gun lobby fighting talk where ah come from, boy!

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    3. Nah Hippo, not in tea, in coffee! That makes it okay, right?

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    4. Us Island Apes from UK have long since given up commenting on the quality of your coffee.

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    5. Oh and Hippo I forgot to add...where do I come from? The future! Unfortunately I'm stuck here in this primitive, barbaric world.

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    6. What does a royal birth have to do with red tea?

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  3. Soy milk is seriously gross.... not the least bit like milk, just liquified beans. And given the genetic meddling with soy beans, best avoided.
    As to the royal kerfuffle:

    The word 'royal' means prerogative or rights - I don't happen to think any human being on earth could or should have rights or prerogatives superior to anyone else. The entire concept of royalty or aristocracy is sourced in backward and less enlightened times when people really did believe that some were superior to others.

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    1. One of my goals in life is to convert at least one person in the world, other than myself to mixing soy milk with cream for coffee...good for you and delicious!

      I suspect it will not be you Roslyn.

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    2. One other thing here as well. Not only do I not mind genetic meddling. I applaud it! Man has improved upon nature in many ways. I think that was demonstrated with the first successful surgical procedure long before any of us were born.

      I eagerly anticipate the day when most of my body parts can be improved or replaced with technology.

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    3. Hang on, hang on ...
      Red tea/Royal birth.
      come ON Hippo.

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    4. Oh Roslyn, you're such a party pooper, it's nice to have a Royal Family!

      David, you as the bionic man? Now that would be the stuff of nightmares!

      Lovely Sarah, red tea has absolutely nothing to do with royal births, you are quie correct. As I was writing about red tea, however, I noticed that it was Cro Mgnon«s birthday and it was likely to coincide with that of the royal prince so tacked that bit onto the end. Lazy of me I know, forgive me!

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    5. Hmmm, well I had only thought to improve what I currently have but you give me an idea. Maybe I should think about multiple arms, eyes in the back of my head and such. Really there are a lot of possibilities.

      You should go to sleep now and sweet dreams!

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  4. I'm afraid the golf was never going to be an easy call unlike the other two. Kids are just amazing, never failing to come up with the funny goods. The fact that he already has command of two languages is testament to a bright future. Enjoy.

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    1. I started to teach him German as well but that really confused him!

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  5. I just love your "perleez Daddy" stories.

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    1. I'll do some more for you, the lad is always up to something.

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  6. Dropping a royal requires no announcement by the BBC - the comets streaking through the sky should suffice.

    I await with bated breath the moment when the youngling is presented to the country Lion King/Michael Jackson style by being held up over the ramparts of Buck Hice. Zzzzzzzzzzz.

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    1. I'm all a quiver in anticipation, honest!

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  7. My grandfather, too, was named Ernst, and in most pictures of him I've seen, has both hat and collar. Such a generation. But your boys will do as well; this is their generation.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Right. So ... fuck the red tea. Why do royal babies always smell like nori rolls?

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    3. Joanne, what a coincidence. If his second name was Gunther, that would make the coincidence amazing!

      Sarah, I have never actually smelt a royal baby so could not comment. I do know, however, that the Queen thinks all of England smells like fresh paint.

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    4. I just feel so ripped off right now.

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    5. Damn, I was just about to go to bed and try the old sleeping lark again. I'm not very good at that, not recently anyway. It's twenty minutes short of midnight and the tide is high. I know 'cos I can hear the surf. And now you go and say something like that.

      For Goodness' sake, have you not realised I am the kind of guy who will lose sleep thinking he has ripped a young lady off?

      I will be awake all night worrying about this. I will wander through the bush risking snake bites or falling over and breaking my neck because I have too much whisky inside me. I may even be found floating in my own pond having tried to hand catch yellow eyed mullet (just to confirm the taxonomy for you), who knows what provokes the distraught to such reckless behaviour?

      Sarah. I would never intentionally rip you off. Clearly, I have failed to deliver (and you are by no means the first female to lay such an accusation at my door) so please tell me where I fell short.

      C'mon, Sarah, give an honest bloke a chance! Jesus, it's not like I drank all your Bundaberg and slept with your sister, is it?

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    6. Mmm, one's married
      http://www.thawinedarksea.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/sister-bride.html
      but the other seven would scare the shit outa any wife.

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  8. Duchess in Labour? I thought that meant she was joining Ed Milliband and Ed Balls on Labour's front bench. Not the best place to shell out a royal child in my view. The famous green leather upholstery would be covered with a different sort of "red tea".

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  9. Well it's a future king.... And not a queen....


    Mind you an out gay king would be a rather fleshing change eh?

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    1. Yeah! That'd be great! And then Prince Harry marrying a black girl.

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  10. That little boy of yours is a real cutie.

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    1. Pity his father is so ugly, eh!

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  11. You were two weeks late, Tom? Shame on you. No wonder relations between you and your mother have been strained ever since.

    Am all tearful since you and I clearly share a grandfather. Mine too used to lift his hat. Such a lovely custom.

    "Great unwashed"? Oh, Tom. Father of son (English) used to use that term. Of course, as you know, these days only thoughts are free to do what thoughts do. What spills out of our mouths has to be washed politically correct first. Give me a landmine any time. At least you can stand on it. And explode.

    U

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    1. You either get up very early or can't sleep like me!

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  12. I've already sent the congratulatory telegram, suggesting 'Prince Cro' as a decent sort of name.

    When my oldest boy was at the nearby school, I occasionally asked him what he'd eaten for lunch. Usually his reply was 'flat meat'; this meant sliced ham or whatever. We still use the expression 'flat meat' when he visits.

    Oh, and by the way, I still dop my titfa; and always stand still and remove it altogether when a hearse passes by.

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    1. Flat meat, good one!

      When I was still living in Germany, I always wore a hat and would dop it.

      Does remind me of the joke where two chaps are playing golf, one is about to putt when he sees a funeral cortege so he pauses and doffs his hat. His mate says, 'I say, that was jolly respectful of you' whereupon his partner replies, 'Yeah well, I was married to her for thirty years...'

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  13. Ah yes, I immediately thought of rooibos...a drink only to be drunk very occasionally. Then I thought perhaps it comes in a red packet...and then I read the answer. Kids are spot on with their observations.

    By now you will know that WE have given birth to a boy-king. It's all pretty cheery here at the moment...sunshine for the first time in decades, a good trouncing of the Aussies, a yellow jersey in France...and who cares about the golf. Don't forget the rugby too. Now if we could only get rid of those pesky politicians...

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Please feel free to comment, good or bad. I will allow anything that isn't truly offensive to any other commentator. Me? You can slag me without mercy but try and be witty while you are about it.