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 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014

...Scouse music hall crooner, Beatrice Mary ‘Binnie’ Hale

(-Monro), star of Bow Bells and Magyar Melody, ground

Out so many gramaphone songs: ‘Your Blasé’, ‘As Time

Goes By’ and, of course, A.P. Herbet and Henry Sullivan’s

Anthemic ‘A Nice Cup of Tea’ from the revue show, Home &

Beauty, circa 1937... And didn’t Mr. Orwell like to regulate

His granules religiously, as he once detailed in his Eleven

Golden Commandments to preparing and drinking tea,

Washed up in the Evening Violet after a six-year-long

Hangover from the Thirties, in 1946: ‘The teapot should

Be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware

Teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse,

Though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity

Nowadays) is not so bad’, Orwell promulgated: ‘Thirdly,

The pot should be warmed beforehand. …Fourthly, the tea

Should be strong. …Some people would answer that they

Don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be

Warmed and stimulated…’ –indeed, many might relish such

Psychical lubrication, such cavalier subversion of leaves

To lift the spirits and sharpen the perceptions, get those trickly

Endorphins brewed and flowing… ‘Tenthly, one should pour

Tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial

Points of all’ (only our ‘George’ could make polemic out

Of the tea-making ritual!): ‘Indeed in every family

In Britain there are probably two schools of thought on

The subject’ –naturally Orwell would root out the oppositions

For Darjeeling dialectic: ‘The milk-first school can bring

Forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain

That my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by

Putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can

Exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable

To put in too much milk if one does it the other way round…’ –

Quod erat demonstrandum: ‘…sufficient to show how

Subtilized the whole business has become. There is also

The mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot

(Why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer,

For instance?)’ –tell us, Mr. Orwell, from your own opinion,  

Having supped and slopped and slept with lumpenproletariat

Deep in the slumming back-to-back bowels of dingy Wigan…?

‘…and much might be written about the subsidiary uses

Of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival

Of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping

The carpet…’ –sweeping the carpet…? Was Mr. Orwell

Fibbing? Or did he hold to the bourgeois habit not only

Of disembodied Mass Observing but also swallowing old

Wives’ tales with thick dripping? It would have made for

Exceedingly good witness Mr. Orwell versus Mr. Kipling....



…apart from a warm reviver, and then maybe a leaf of lavender,

One can always count on the dulcet scent of DEVON VIOLET, 

Odour Postpone, as a soporific for the heart-emptying notes

Of night’s postponement of impossible thoughts into possible

Dreams, until rosey dawn disperses dark’s phantasmagoria,

The moon’s shadow-pl ay that danced all night on the woodchip-

Dimpled wall and clawed at the worried-rigid whicker screen…


Hardly aware of her departed lover;

Her brain allows one half-formed thought to pass:

“Well now that's done: and I'm glad it's over.”

She smoothes her hair with automatic hand

And puts a record on the gramophone …


                                                        [III. The Fire Sermon, The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot]



Picture you upon my knee

Just tea for two

And two for tea

Just me for you

And you for me...alone…


I'm discontented with homes that I've rented

So I have invented my own.

Darling, this place is a lovely oasis

Where life's weary taste is unknown

Far from the crowded city

Where flowers pretty caress the stream

Cozy to hide in, to live side by side in,

Don't let it apart in my dream-


Picture you upon my knee

Just tea for two

And two for tea

Just me for you

And you for me alone



Nobody near us to see us or hear us Mm, mm, mm,

No friends or relations Mm, mm, mm,

On weekend vacations Mm, mm, mm.

We won't have it known, dear,

That we own a telephone, dear...



Day will break and I'll wake

And start to bake a sugar cake...



    [Music Vincent Youmans and lyrics by Irving Caesar from No, No, Nanette (1925)]

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