June 19th 2016

Today is Father’s Day in the UK, so we had all of the fathers in the family round our house for that most traditional of ‘dad meals’ – A barbecue. With my Dad in charge of the fire, and my mum in charge of the food, I was left in charge of the kettle. 

This often happens at family events. When people arrive it is my duty and job to ask “tea or coffee?” (For the record, the only acceptable answer to the question “Would you like a cup of tea?” is to say “I’d love a coffee, thanks”) 

That’s always a dangerous question, because as soon as one person wants one, everyone wants one. But, hey, that’s my job. Kettle duty. The fun part is getting it right. I take the drinks order as if I were at work, I write down the amount of milk and sugar, whether it was a tea or coffee – or in my sisters case, Green Tea. (Bleugh) 

I have a pretty big family, and they’ve all got partners as well, so the kettle invariably needs filling twice. Eventually I get a line of cups that has to equally match the order I wrote down the drinks on my phone. 

You’d think I’d know the individual requirements on strength and sweetness, by now. But I still have to ask “one or two sugars?” To everyone. I must stress how important it is to British people that their tea and/or coffee be served to their exact liking. 

Just to quickly inflate even more the Britishness of this post, I should mention that it started to rain so Dad and I put up a gazebo. The bunting was nowhere to be seen, though. 

Everyone has their preferred cup shape, size, strength, which milk, a dash of cold water. My Grandad will always ask for twenty two sugars in his coffee. Always 22, never 21, or 23. Of course that’s just his funny old way of asking for as many sugars as he’s allowed, but he always asks for 22. 

My Aunt says that she requires an anti-clockwise stir after every 8 clockwise stirs, but I’ve never figured out if she’s being serious about that or not. 

I have to get a pipette out to serve the exact amount of milk that my mum requires. (Not really, but it feels like it) 

I like that we have these little intricacies, and I like that we all come together every time there’s a birthday or a Father’s Day or a Thorntons Appreciation Day. I think we’re the only family in the whole of the world that wake Dad up by singing the song “Happy Fathers Day to You” to the tune of that other well known celebratory song (which, I’ve recently learnt is copyrightable and thus I’ve not mentioned it by name) 

But that’s us. We’re weird and British and we had a barbecue in the rain and drank a load of tea and basked in our ironic self awareness. 

Until tomorrow, milk two sugars. 


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