A sip down memory lane

If they could see me now… they’d go “huh”?

I’ve just bought something that many of my friends, and tea lovers worldwide, would be scratching their heads at. But more on that later.

When I worked behind the counter in our tea shop, I would often quote that Singaporean study about tea and memory. Tea is great for memory. When you drink over 8 cups a day, as I do, it reduces your chances of contracting Alzheimer’s Disease by 65%.

Our son Saxon used to joke he drank so much tea, he could remember things that hadn’t actually happened.

But as much as tea in general can help memory in general; specific teas can really tap in to specific memories.

So, let me tell you about Danny.

I met Danny at Heathrow airport under terrible circumstances. My father-in-law had suddenly passed away on holiday in the UK. My wife, who had not been back since her family emigrated to Australia (for the second time) in 1977, and I arrived very early in the morning, and there was Danny and his wife Roni.

Danny was Anne’s cousin and about 9 years older than she. Despite the age difference, they had a very special bond; he was more like a big brother to her. He had also been very close to her Dad.

I remember heading straight to the house of Sue, another cousin, and Danny’s sister. Clustered around the back yard, I held back from much of the tearful reunions, and spoke to Roni. We compared notes about how similar Anne and Danny were in personality. There was much laughter, even amidst such sadness.

We were only there a week of very sad duty. We did stay one night with Danny and Roni later in the week, but I was so exhausted I don’t remember much of it, except for missing a few trains the next day – one thing Anne and Danny shared was an inability to be on time for anything, so between them, it was a nightmare to be anywhere at any given time.

Later that week, they showed up to see us off at Heathrow.

Fast forward ten years to 2007 and we fly into Heathrow again, but this time, we’re on holiday, and we have five weeks. In the midst of that is eight days in Menorca, Spain, where Danny and Roni moved to in the early 2000’s.

To get to Menorca, we flew from Stansted, where we were looked at suspiciously by two machine-gun toting armed gaureds with sniffer dogs. Why? Because I had 200 tea-bags in my carry-on case.

“TEA-BAGS?” I hear you shout. My God, this long and rambling epic has just got bizarre. “What are YOU doing with TEA-BAGS? You hate them”.

And I do hate tea-bags. But Danny loved specific ones. PG Tips to be exact. And much as I find them to be (a) crap (b) tetrahedron-shaped and not pyramid-shaped as the pack says (c) strangely linked to chimpanzees and (d) worth mentioning ‘crap’ again.

But we’d been told Danny loved them, and that they were hard to get and expensive on Menorca.

It would take eight days to describe how very special those eight days were  The pace of Menorca suited Danny; and wherever suited Danny was going to suit Roni. They were relaxed and happy, so were we. it was a magical eight days, full of memories, fantastic memories. And we all drank at least 5-6 cups of PG tips tea-bag tea every day.

We left the day after a huge jaleo horse festival, waving goodbye tearfully at the airport.

We planned to go back to Menorca in 2010; sadly, our financial situation did not allow it; and we started planning for 2012.

About six days ago, we got the terrible news that Danny had passed away suddenly.

Let me tell you, when you are half a world away, you feel twice as numb; twice as hopeless.

I’m writing this as the funeral takes place on Menorca. All we can do from here, is quietly reflect and sift through our precious and way-too-small hoard of memories.

I’ll be supporting Anne though this time to the best of my ability, though of course, I can’t really make any difference.

But I’m just back from the shops, and I have purchased 40 rubbish-tasting, wrongly-shaped, chimpanzee-tainted PG Tips tea bags.

Together, we’ll raise a cup and evoke the best of our memories.

5 thoughts on “A sip down memory lane

  1. If this is true rather than fiction, I’m sorry for your losses. I’ve actually never heard the correlation between tea and memory, though I think in this case it’s just a matter of association rather than any sort of memory support.

    That being said, enjoy your PG Tips as best you can! Bags have their time and purpose, and I’d say you’ve found one of the most meaningful of those.

  2. Oh Robert. Am really touched.

    I was given a box of PG Tips last year for my birthday, and I still have most of a box left, but I’m brewing a mug and sending you, Anne, Roni and especially Danny as I drink it.

    What a wonderful memory.

    When my dad died, one of his closest friends talked of how precious long-term friends are. That no matter how good your new friends are, you can’t easily create anything like those early friendships.

    Again, I’m really glad you told us this.

  3. Very moving blog post – sad, but also full of warmth. I hope you and Mrs Devotea are holding up okay, so difficult when you are so far away.
    About the PG Tips; quite often drinking tea is not about the tea at all, but about the associations, memories and connections we make with it.
    We’re raising a cuppa over here,

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