The two most formative years of my life were between 16 and 18, while I was at college. That was the time I began writing (it might've been only fan fiction but it certainly helped me with things like plotting, dialogue and characterisation so I'm not arguing), it was the time when my passing appreciation of musical film and theatre grew into a love that would prove to be my favourite way of working through...anything. It was also the time I started drinking tea.
Picture it (I suddenly feel like Sophie Petrillo): I would leave home or college (sometimes not actually bothering to attend when I was meant to be) and walk the few miles to my grandparents house. All I had on me besides the essentials was a battered tiny bag containing the A5 spiral-backed notebooks I accumulated full of fan fiction, a pen and possibly my latest 40s era CD. It was quite a walk over there, the final quarter being uphill, stretching past Pinderfields Hospital. That was the moment when I used to deliberately check there was no one behind me and start singing along to whatever track I was listening to at that moment. Frequently, I made sure it was this one:
When I got to the bungalow my grandmother put the kettle on straight away. If I was lucky my grandfather was away on his mobility scooter watching lawn bowls. The perk of this was that we'd be able to watch Murder, She Wrote in the living room instead of sitting on the floor in the bedroom. If I was early I'd have my first cup of tea in my gorgeous koala mug (still my cup of choice when visiting her) at the kitchen table with my notebook open but as soon as this theme music started I was into the living room like a shot, my grandmother already having put the kettle on for a fresh cuppa (with plenty of biscuits) as we watched Angela Lansbury:
Afterwards I retired to the kitchen, with another cuppa, to write and write and write until the time came for me to leave their bungalow and walk the mile or so to my other grandmother's where most of my evenings ended. The amount of writing I got done in those hours, though, was prolific. And you know the funny thing? I never drank tea anywhere else at this point. Not at home, not at my maternal grandmother's, not out in town. It was my special drink for there, made just right.
I started drinking it again at university to get that home feeling. These days I need a drip installed to manage my intake. Years ago I cut out the sugar but I have it quite weak and with a big dribble of milk. There's also an obsession with fruit and herbal teas but that's a post for another day. In the meantime, say hello to Sophia!
(In this post I managed to talk about Victoria Wood, Murder, She Wrote and The Golden Girls - all things that kept me going through those tricky college years!)