You’ll notice the blank area above this first line. That’s a moment’s silence for the victims of the terrible attacks in Paris in the last 24 hours.
It’s three hours later than I normally write my blog, and it’s a struggle to write my usual semi-pointless, mildly aggressive half rant. Seems a bit trite in the face of such appalling loss of life.
Of course, it’s a daily occurrence in the Middle East, but unreasonably, it seems so much worse when these attacks happen where the individual victims have absolutely no relationship to the conflict. However much local politics may play a part in the Middle East – or as another example 1970s and 1980s Northern Ireland – it somehow seems more brutal to kill 100 plus civilians when you know you have no direct enemies there as compared to, as an example, killing 100 people in a marketplace where you might take out 3 or 4 actual enemy combatants.
It should not seem worse to us that someone is shot going to a concert as opposed to braving the streets to try to get bread for their family, but the key here is that we – and everyone who reads this is part of ‘we’ – go to the cinema. We go to the soccer. We go out and have a meal. And so these victims represent us in a way that some casualty in Aleppo never will, despite them being just as innocent.
The video of French people singing the national anthem has beamed worldwide, and reinforced the one thing all the experts tell us: we must carry on and more or less ignore these tactics.
It’s damn hard. This blog was to be about two people I know, but now it’s not. It would not be fair to them to attach that piece after this. So instead, here’s blog I could have written any Sunday, but have written today, as I carry on, with tea in hand.
I’m not fussy about tea.
Not at all.
So what if the cup isn’t perfect. So what if the water temperature is a few degrees out? I’m not fussy at all.
I do require, of course , that the tea not be made from a teab*g. That’s not fussy. That’s just refusing to drink tea that does not meet even my modest, unfussy standard.
I also require that the tea not be grown using the methods that are tantamount to modern slavery or be sourced from one of those companies that support these conditions, That includes a great many of the major tea companies, but so what? That’s human decency, not me being fussy.
If it’s a black tea, it has to have some tannins. That’s not me being fussy, that’s a fact. But not too many tannins. It can be chewy and leathery if over tannined, and I don’t want that. Not being fussy, mind you: just keeping the tea makers honest.
I also like a lingering after-taste. I hate it when you drink tea and it vanishes from your mouth as soon as it’s gone down, It’s not too fussy to expect a memory of the taste to linger on your tongue for five to fifteen minutes, is it? No!
If a tea is flavoured with something, I want them to do it boldly! I hate it when you look at a dry tea and see wonderfully colourful and exotic bits in it and then the taste is washy-washy. It’s like terrible prog rock albums with excellent cover art, you buy it for the cover and end up with a 20 minute flute solo in 7/8 time backed by a Gregorian chant. That’s not me being fussy, it’s terribly disappointing.
If it’s a green tea, I want it to be non-grassy, non-bitter, not insipid and not Japanese. That’s not me being fussy, but why would I drink a second rate green when there are go many good blacks or whites.
If it’s a white tea, I want it to be Doke Silver Needle or a damn good Pai Mu Tan (Bai Mudan). That’s not me being fussy, I just love that stuff.
The biggest category of tea I drink is… ours. Of course it is. As exciting as it is to try something new, much of the time the comfort of the familiar is what we seek. And as part of a two-person blending team, of course the blends I have created or contributed to are right in my comfort zone.
So, it’s not me being fussy. I just want to spend my Sunday with Lady D, with familiar cups of tea, spend time in the garden, catch up with family and friends, maybe watch some of the cricket, and not have murderous bastards across the globe perpetrate their horrifying crimes anywhere today.
That’s not too much to ask. Or am I too fussy?