On a day when so many are suffering in the cold, and on a day when I feel blessed to have the man I love wait on me while I lounge around with flu, I want only to share in the warmth of a simple cup of tea. And a few creative scribbles.
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There is a robotic feel to the way it slots into place, like a mechanical toad settling on a pad. A coating of stubborn grime coats the bulbous body, glinting sticky in fluorescent light as a hand jerks away in disgust. The thick, twisted wire curls away to the left, latching itself to the wall in a lazy effort to hold on in the current. No need to fight it, this life charge of sizzling blue; it throbs through the channel with the lumpy progress of saliva down a swollen throat. And yet for all this effort, the rules are simple: flick the switch, watch it burn.
It gets hotter and beads of sweat tack on the dirty white body. A translucent thermometer of dusty grey is cast in the shadow of a red LED, a smudged window to the waters within as they churn and bubble. Track the gaze northwards: the extension of a handle, another offering of grey but this time in the form rubber to help the less steady hand – and then the lid, the nesting ground of dirt. Directly beneath the spice shelf, layers of cumin and coriander float down and settle, like autumnal snow, to be engulfed in grease and solidified on the uneven plane.
One hundred and twenty three years of graft and genius went into this creature and it still takes three minutes to make a cup of tea. Might as well use the copper kettles from the brewery. At least they have a charm about them, glowing a vibrant rusted amber in the firelight, steam gushing forth and shivering into vibrations that whistle a high pitched ditty. But I’d want them huge, towering over an open flame in the back garden, with the beautiful smooth sides of a church bell, vast vats of tea scalding inside. Come on over; there’s plenty to go around.
Time’s up, the switch flicks to attention with a satisfied click. Gripping the handle with the bored habitual swing of the arm, I pour the boiling water into the proffered mug, wincing at the flecks of rust swirling in the flow and hoping the guest doesn’t notice. I smile, my mouth mirroring the sulky curve of the lips of the spout as it finishes its regurgitation, before slamming it back down into its battery port. I want a kettle that sings.