A thing I used to do

When I was 17, I suddenly developed this preoccupation with the idea of being sophisticated. I thought it would be fantastic if I were like one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters. Charming and intelligent and educated and most of all, sophisticated. I read anything I could lay my hands on, got myself a complete works of Shakespeare and, after reading Hamlet, actually really loved it. I tried to accumulate as many facts as possible. My friend, Alison, (who will appear again in a minute), and I would go to the theatre almost every week and discuss the play at length afterward. We learned to eat our soup by scooping our spoons away from us, rather than toward us, like commoners. We presumed that any minute now, we would suddenly wake up and realise that we had become….. sophisticated.

There was a bookshop near school which had lots of university books in it, textbooks about things in medicine that I’d never heard of and huge anthologies of this, that and the other. The literature section was fabulous though, I understood what was going on there.

Upstairs in this bookshop, there was a cafe. Alison and I often used to go to the cafe if we had a free moment in our day. We liked to sit there because we figured that, with all the intelligence and learning floating around in there, some of it must surely stick on us? We would sit amongst the university students discussing intellectual things and try to appear sophisticated. We used to order tea and it would come in little teapots.

I am going to blame what happened next on the cafe. I mean, what kind of cafe has teapots that hold almost exactly the amount of liquid that fits in the cups?

We would pour out our tea into our cups. I think I remember, actually, that the first cup was fine. We would pour out, add milk and drink up. The second cup, however, was where the problem lay. We would pour out the tea and, as there was only a little bit left, we’d pour until the pot was empty. The problem then became clear – there was no space for milk. Black tea was not tasty, especially if it was the second cup so slightly overbrewed.

What to do? A full cup of tea with no space for milk? One cannot pour one’s tea from one’s cup back into one’s teapot, can one? That is, like, sooooo not sophisticated.

But never fear, Alison and I knew how to be sophisticated. We would rescue this situation. We took the lids off our teapots and pulled them close to our cups. Then we took our teaspoons and, scooping our spoons away from us, we transported our tea back to our teapots in little teaspoon amounts. It took a while but at least we were sophisticated about it.

This happened a few times, I remember, and yet we didn’t seem to learn. Perhaps that’s why I’m still so good at scooping away now. And being sophisticated….. I am sophisticated, aren’t I? Aren’t I?

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Jones on November 17, 2013 at 09:10

    And here you are now at Ham House…

    Reply

  2. Haha I too used to fancy myself all sorts of sophisticated when I was about that age. Still.. I never quite mastered the whole scoop the soup away thing… How does that even work? To this day I slurp and spill like a commoner. *sigh*

    Reply

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