More tea Vicar?


So yesterday, being rather wet, was a day for writing and catching up with friends, and that meant plentiful quantities of tea and coffee.  I’ve always loved tea – black tea, builders tea – the stronger the better. The worst cup I ever drank was in the course of a visit when I was offered a cup from an aluminium pot – still boiling on the stove after what could have been hours. On being asked if I wanted milk and sugar I was offered a can of condensed sweetened milk with a half submerged teaspoon in it. I swear my teeth were chattering by the time I finished it –  but I did finish it.

I once counted how many cups I was drinking in a day and it was more than I dare confess, but it never seemed to have any adverse effects and I would happily drink a mug of tea at bedtime and still sleep well. Actually that last sentence should be qualified to say that I didn’t actually sleep any worse than usual. Restless, dream infested nights were my metier as Madame will testify. When it became possible to make decent coffee at home I started drinking espressos in the intervals between mugs of tea – and made it much worse by buying a huge teapot – big enough for an extended family party – and emptying it slowly as the brew became ever stronger. Yesterday I discovered that my caffeine consumption might be a bit of a problem ….

First off there were the usual 2 mugs in bed, followed by a double espresso while I did a bit of reading. Then I started on the green tea which (I thought) was very low in caffeine.  Not, however, when it’s been steeping for half an hour. More black tea. Off then to meet up with friends at Waterstones (2 more strong coffees) and then back home (2 more mugs of builders’).

Then I had a dizzy turn.  I’m very used to dizzy turns – hah!

Ever …….so …….. slowly …… the notion began to seep into my stupid mind that my AF attacks could be linked to something more than stress – and goodness knows it’s been stressful watching our political system implode for the last three years. But could it also my ridiculous caffeine consumption? and so I quickly drank three glasses of water and the weird feeling subsided.    Not evidence I agree, but a sledgehammer of a hint.

Blogging usually means putting your best foot forwards and making your life look like a paradise of virtue, uninterrupted bliss and an example for all to follow. Not the Potwell Inn!  I’m happy to share the screw-ups as well as the successes, because human flourishing has to take place in the weather of events, misunderstandings, resistances and sheer doltish stupidity. I made a small start this morning with just one mug of builders’ tea and then spreading single small cups of green tea out for the rest of the morning. After about 5.00pm I’ll turn to chamomile tea, and I’m giving up the espressos for a while just to see what happens. The problem is that it’s so easy to normalize our everyday behaviour that we (I) don’t ask the right questions and, ‘though we might not be making ourselves exactly ill, we push ourselves into that grey area between thriving and ‘just doing OK’. 

We were supposed to be camping in the Forest of Dean for a couple of nights, returning today – but the weather has been so relentlessly cold and wet we cried off. Earlier today we went down to the polling station to vote.  There were crowds of young people passing through – which left us hopeful for the results tomorrow. I long to tell the crooked rose that our age is no longer bent by the wintry fever of austerity.

Author: Dave Pole

I've spent my life doing a lot of things, all of them interesting and many of them great fun. When most people see my CV they probably think I'm making things up because it includes being a rather bad welder and engineering dogsbody, a potter, a groundsman and bus driver. I taught in a prison and in one of those ghastly old mental institutions as an art therapist and I spent ten years as a community artist. I was one of the founding members of Spike Island, which began life as Artspace Bristol. ! wrote a column for Bristol Evening Post (I got sacked three times, in which I take some pride) and I worked in local and network radio and then finally became an Anglican parish priest for 25 years, retiring at 68 when I realised that the institutional church and me were on different paths. What interests me? It would be easier to list what doesn't, but I love cooking and baking with our home grown ingredients. I'm fascinated by botany and wildlife in general, and botanical illustration. We have a camper van that takes us to the wild places, we love walking, especially in the hills, and we take too many photographs. But what really animates me is the question "what does it mean to be human?". I've spent my life exploring it in every possible way and the answer is ..... well, today it's sitting in the van in the rain and looking across Ramsey Sound towards Ramsey Island. But it might as easily be digging potatoes or making pickle, singing or finding an orchid or just sitting. But it sure as hell doesn't mean getting a promotion, beasting your co-workers or being obsequious to power, which ensured that my rise to greatness in the Church of England flatlined 30 years ago after about 2 days. But I'm still here and still searching for that elusive sweet spot, and I don't have to please anyone any more. Over the last 50 or so years we've had a succession of gardens, some more like wildernesses when we were both working full-time, but now we're back in the game with our two allotments in Bath.

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