What it boils down to.

This is our kettle. God it’s awful.

Just look at it.

With its stuck-up spout and pretentious double handle that’s too hot to lift without an oven glove.

It doesn’t even have a measure on the side to let you know how many cups it will make. It just arrogantly expects you to know by sight.

And it’s annoying. So annoying. When it’s done, it’s just dying to let you know with a high-pitched whistle. “Oooooh look at me everybody, I’ve boiled the water AND I’m shrieking”. Frickin’ show-off.

Other kettles are content to just do their job and leave it at that. No bells, no whistles – just hot water.

Like the first one we bought when we got here.

Everything about it was great, except that it couldn’t withstand tea consumption on a British scale. We watched on as limescale ravaged its insides and grimaced each time we picked out floating flakes from our mugs. When we laid it to rest, I thought we’d get another just like it. A bit like when a kid’s goldfish dies, you just go out and get another one. But, on the day Alex bought a new one, she was feeling a bit more earthy than usual and opted for the bitch whistle instead.

Now, as much as I hate the damn thing, there’s no use hiding from the fact that we need it. On a physical and emotional level.

A day out with the kids usually involves tears (them), a sandwich wedged down the side of the car seat (them), and at least one toilet accident (mostly them). They’re emotional things, children. Soaring highs, deep lows – there’s no middle ground. Pre-empting, second-guessing and diverting the next mood swing is one of the more exhausting aspects of parenting.

Thankfully we’re strong enough to withstand our first instinct – to reach for the gin. But we definitely need something to take the edge off.

Since we moved here, we’ve both embraced the American way and dabbled with coffee. Me – an Americano; Alex – a flat white (whatever that is, apart from a mildly offensive racist slur). We even briefly flirted with tea leaves and a tea strainer. But it’s just not touched the sides.

When we need some calm in the Californian craziness, nothing delivers a stirring pickmeup quite like a cup of English tea. And not that Lipton crap they try to fob you off with out here either.

I discovered the extent of Alex’s English tea dependency in November, on her return from London. Carrier bags stuffed with PG Tips Pyramids, squeezed into every conceivable nook of her suitcase. I didn’t check the seams of the case, but I suspect she was carrying.

Years ago, we were in a hotdogmugspecialty tea store in Chinatown one afternoon. The owner gave an impromptu intro to tea tasting, during which he was asked what he thought of teabags. He scoffed, and likened the difference between tea leaves and teabags, to the finest cut of steak and a hot dog.

Well, pass me the fried onions Mister. This Brit is about ready to whistle.



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