Friday, 15 February 2008

Trip to China

She treasures it, I see car boot stalls
When I look at the unremarkable china plate set
Mounted on her living room wall.
Inherited from her grandmother, so not her own taste,
Can she really like it, or is family sentiment more the case?
But that fussy pattern of insipid muddy flowers
Or is there something amiss with me? I muse,
missing it, and half the story,
As she relates the worst day of her life -
When her late husband accidentally dropped the matching jug.

The teapot holds court, worshipped in the alcove.
Well they used to cost a months' wages, you know
So you'd only buy them for very special occasions
(never to use them ever afterwards though).
A funny indulgence for a poor family
Scraping by on a few shillings a week.
You'd have thought new clothes might have been more important,
Or food, or doctor's bills, or furniture, or sheets.
But she comes from an age where tea sets mattered
While she slept with three sisters on lumpy horsehair
Coats for bedclothes, ice on the water jug.
Dreaming of certainty in a constant teapot world…

© LS King 2006


Rol Hirst said...

Cool. Got a nice Alan Bennetty vibe going here, but in verse.

Rosa said...

What nice writing. My husband spends time in China and brought back a tea set. I am slowly learning the Chinese tea customs which truly are part of their culture.

Mrs. G. said...

I have a teapot thing...sort of collect them. Beautiful post.

Steve said...

Ah tea-sets... the HD TV's of their day. As you succinctly point out: families were eager to spend money best spent elsewhere on acquiring something they'd never actually use... but having the kudos of owning it was what mattered... evidence of both how sad and cute people can be, I guess.

Reluctant Blogger said...

I am not into things at all but I do have a tea set which belonged to my great grandmother. They were a poor family too so I guess it was the same sort of thing. I never understood how they preserved it as they did a lot of moving about from place to place. But it is complete (and hideously pink!) other than the loss at some point of two tea cups - but it is a set of six with jugs and funny other things the purpose of which is lost on me. We occasionally use it but I spend the whole time tense, worrying that the boys will clink something or drop something.

I don't drink tea so we had coffee in them which seemed a bit naughty - I'm sure my great granny would have frowned at such misuse.

The Sagittarian said...

Guilty as charged, I have a varied selection of tea of them is of china so fine you can almost see through it and I would never dream of using it. It gives the dust somewhere to settle.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

And I thought we Brits were the only ones who indulged in the eccentric habit of hanging bits of china on walls Amanda!

But yes, I guess they were the valuables/heirlooms of their day Steve and whatever one's personal opinion of them, leaving your antique iPod to future generations isn't quite the same!

All I can say is it would take a helluva tea set for me to feel that attached to one!