Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Tea and Sympathy

For reasons I won't bore you with I am feeling a bit stressed this week.  I have too much to do and problems upon problems, so I am feeling somewhat frayed at present.  And covered in flea bites.  But fear not, I am English so....

The idea of solving everything from being a bit busy to bereavement through infusing leaves in water is a marvellously Victorian notion and I searched out some inspiration for how to deal with my current strain.

A Tea Party (1862) Thomas George Webster
Well, this looks very nice, if a little, well, poor.  I'm no snob, but really, that table looks a bit small and there doesn't seem to be any cake, which is a serious drawback.  It's an interesting thought that these girls are practising the social nicity of tea-time when in truth what good will it be to them?  Where is the mother?  Grandma watches over them from the corner, sipping her tea (or gin, depending on how bad the day has been) while the four children gather around the tiny table.  There is empty chairs in the diagonal corners, possibly hinting at the absent parents, who I assume are dead (because I like to look on the bright side) and the discarded hat on the left-hand side is a disquieting note. More things are missing from this scene than a decent piece of carpet, that's for sure.

Tea Time Thomas McEwan
Nothing I like more than a steaming cup of rural poverty.  For heaven's sake, get those chickens out of the kitchen!  No, this won't do either, I'm not putting the kettle on for the hens, however Thomas Hardy it might all seem.  I want something a tad more genteel, if you don't mind...

Afternoon Tea (1895) Harry Brooker
Well, they can afford two rugs and there aren't any chickens around, but everyone seems a little, well, under ten for my liking.  I bet they don't know the good gossip, and what's tea and cake without scandal?  Mind you, if the girl in the red hat left the room, I bet the others have got some dirt on her.  Look at the way she's lording it over the others.  The boy at the fire is giving her the evils, purposefully burning her crumpet out of spite.  I know I would.

Afternoon Tea (1878) Edith Ballantyne
This is rather lovely.  If my only option is to have tea with a load of ten year olds, I'd rather take tea alone with my book and parrot. Or cockatoo.  It might be lonely, but you get to eat as much battenberg as you like without people passing judgement.  By the look of that rather splendid dress I'm guessing battenberg gorging isn't an option, sadly, and there would be no gossip.  Sigh.  Still not the right picture for me...

Tea in the Conservatory Harry Browne
Now this is much more like it.  Tea with the ladies does promise to reveal a modicum of gossip over neatly cut sandwiches.  Plus there is something rather nice about having a terrier present.  Mind you, I'm not sure about all those plants: I get a bit of hayfever so I may sneeze during a marvellous revelation about the vicar and miss everything.  Moving on...

Afternoon Tea (1879) Jean Carolus
I bet the Georgians loved a bit of tea and scandal, mind you, the lady seated seems to be wearing dark, sombre colours, so I smell a session of tea and sympathy rather than tea and scandal.  Shame, as that really is a lovely carpet.  Still, I'm after an afternoon of gay laughter and cake...

Five O'Clock Tea David Comba Adamson
Here we go, this is far more like it.  With sleeves that huge, you know they will have some decent stories to tell.  You just know that the lady in the golden hat is about to spill the beans on the man in the haberdashery shop and the lady who'll do anything for a decent tassel.  Who doesn't love a good tassel?  I digress.  This must be my favourite, with a richness of colour and a lightness of touch.  This is a beautiful picture of a party I'd like to be at.

There's just one problem.  I don't drink tea....


  1. You don't drink tea?! Oh my goodness, you are missing out! ;) I love your critique of these lovely paintings, by the way. I hope you feel better soon, even if tea is not the way you fix it. :)

  2. Thank you for your comments. I'll pop my gin into a teacup, just to keep up appearances...

  3. No one will ever be rude and ask what is in your teacup. I shouldn't so you are welcome to drop by and have beverage and food with us. Actually you would get sorbet or ice cream as my reward for retiring was an ice cream/sorbet maker (small) and a new computer (alas the old one died quietly). The offer is good though. Anytime at my little house in Texas.

  4. Next time I'm in Texas I'll be by, promise!

  5. "Sherry and knives" in the vicarage, they say, though one really does need one wall of bookcases and some oppressively large and dark upholstered chairs to complete the effect. Port, I'm afraid, must be reserved for the evening, or Sunday morning in the chalice. The conservatory is a good spot for a round of G&Ts, in any case.

  6. How can you love something as archetypally English as the pre-Raphs and not drink tea??? Something wrong here...

  7. I'm so sorry, but I'll pop the Bristol Cream in a cup and saucer and not dip my battenberg into it. Should be fine.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx