Jaqui's Daily Blog

High Tea, Mars Bars and a Bit of a Poser

My older brother tells us that, as an 11 year old boy being interviewed for a place at Coopers Company School for Boys in London, he was asked the following question: “It is half past two. How many minutes are there between the hour hand and the minute hand?” I am wondering how many of today’s eleven year olds could answer that question, especially when put on the spot under such scary circumstances.


This is one of the things I love about our Brothers and Sisters Get Togethers.  Each of the four of us has stories to tell about those far-off days when we were young. Our partners, bless them, look on with indulgent smiles as we reminisce.


The venue for yesterday’s Brothers and Sisters Day was Our Place and my two brothers and sister were due at 4 p.m. for what I laughingly called High Tea.  As it happens, they turned up half an hour early but my brother in law had invested in ice creams.  Nobody is going to worry about early-birds who come bearing ice-creams.


Interestingly, what do you understand by the expression “High Tea”?  According to Wikipaedia, there is a distinct difference between Afternoon Tea (a custom which originated among the wealthy classes) and High Tea, which was the evening meal of the working classes. OK, OK, we know our place. High Tea is traditionally eaten between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. (yes, we were bang on time) and typically consists of a hot dish, followed by cakes and bread, butter and jam. Occasionally there would be cold cuts of meat, such as ham salad.  I have to confess that we missed out on the cakes, bread and butter and jam, though we did have ham and we finished our tea with a fruit salad which was truly delicious (though I say it myself as shouldn’t. ) The term High Tea was first used around 1825, and high is used in the sense of well-advanced (like high noon, for example) to signify that it was taken later in the day. I do like it when the Daily Blog takes on an educational slant, even though it is highly unlikely that anything you read here will prepare you for the Ongoing Challenge of Life As We Know It.


I abandon Wikipaedia in search of an alternative and discover another website which relates that English High Tea usually involved a mug of tea, bread, vegetables, cheese and occasionally meat while variations could include the addition of pies, potatoes and crackers. That is a little closer to the meal I served up for my family yesterday. What is more, a possible explanation why this type of meal was called high tea is the fact that it was eaten at a table, unlike Afternoon Tea which was taken whilst seated in low, comfortable chairs or sofas.  We did sit at a table, though it was the garden table because it was far too beautiful a day to eat indoors. Does that count, d you think?


At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter does it? However because Mr B and I both shopped separately for our guests, we have ended up with rather a lot of left-over food. We will be eating High Tea, in all its many and varied manifestations, for days to come.


My younger brother, who had travelled all the way from Scotland to be with us, regaled us with takes from his school-days, and brilliantly mimicked one of his former school masters. My sister remembered Friday Night Surprise Night – and we all laughed at the fact that everyone always knew what the “surprise” would be: Tiny Tots for me, Chicks Own for my sister and sweets all round. Did we remember, my older brother queried, how whenever our dad produced a Mars bar on Surprise Night it always had to be carefully cut into six pieces, one for each member of the family? Of course we did – and we all admitted that, right up to today, we still feel secretly guilty when presented with a whole Mars bar which somehow seems just too plain greedy for words.


We sipped Prosecco and toasted being all together again.  I remembered to present my sister with the Cup for Best Use of Props (see photo) which we jointly won at the Youngest of the Darling Daughters’ fortieth birthday party and which we each keep for six months of the year. The fellas kept slipping inside to check on the cricket scores but the rest of us chose to forgive them. My sister balanced her camera on the sun dial and set it for delayed action in a bid to secure a photograph of us all. It was the first time she had tried out this function on her (fairly) new camera so she found herself on the receiving end of rather a lot of fraternal teasing. That’s what comes of being the baby of the family.


After every one had departed, with hugs and kisses and promises to keep in touch, Mr B and I cleared up and then stood in the garden watching the bats dart and skim across the moon – not quite full (that will be tonight’s treat) but beautiful nevertheless.  Mr B said, with his customary under-statement, that he thought everything had worked out OK.  That’s alright then.


Thank you to my Big Brothers and my Little Sister for making yesterday’s High Tea such a truly elevated experience.


PS The answer to the question in the first paragraph of today’s blog is seventeen and a half minutes. Just in case you care...

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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