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Sgt Mattie.

The Late Late Show

MAURICE HICKEY WEEKLY

Pat is proud to support
Power 4 Good Ireland
2nd Dec 2016

The Joys of Tay

I like my pint but Im also a lover of tea

Like multitudes on this island I believe that you cant bate a dacent cup a tay.
The importance of the substance as an essential element of life in Ireland cannot be overstated. By definition a good day out will involve imbibing at least one cup of it Oh twas a great day we got tay and all.
In sharp contrast a bad day out will be defined by the absence of tay Deprived of their favourite caffeinerush people will fume. We were never even asked if we had a mouth on us not as much as a cup of tay were we given.
And then theres a whole ritual around the making brewing pouring and drinking of the concoction.
I was reared in the era of tealeaves or tay laves as they were called. In every house there was a tin box or tea caddy on a shelf over the range. The woman of the house could take the caddy off the shelf without as much as looking up and in the same movement scald the teapot spoon in the required amount of tay laves and fill the requisite amount of hot water from the sturdy kettle that never left the top of the range and whose spout was never without a wisp of steam trailing up into the darkness of the kitchen ceiling.
To watch the woman of the house making tay was like watching ice skaters in the Olympics that one person could do so much in one graceful movement was incredible.
On the other hand a mans effort at making tay was a disjointed and ugly affair. An initial struggle to find the tea caddy was often followed by a failure to notice the water wasnt fully boiled and resulted in a broody dissatisfaction with the finished product which was deemed too feckin strong or too bloody wake Tay made by a man is a far inferior substance to that made by a woman.
Such a remark might sound very sexist and sooo 1950s but its true men are useless hoors when it comes to making tay. Anyway arent we living in Trump times where you can say what you like true or false and the more people you offend the better.
Now to the drinking of tay. Everyone has their own rituals and taste in this regard and while people say theyre not particular let me tell you they are. From the extremist who will only drink tea brewed from tea leaves in a china pot and poured through a strainer into a china cup to the fella whos happy to squeeze a teabag into a jamjar of warm water they are all particular about their tay Even the man with the jamjar will be fussy about the kind of jar used and the calibration in the squeezing of the taybag.
Be all that as it may the cup of tay is the greatest comfort of all and one of the great societal levellers Writing this I felt an onrush of the muse and my pen took to poetrifying in praise of the substance.

There is nothing that cannot be sorted
Sweetened or made go away
By the sound of a kettle rumbling to boil
And the scent of a fresh pot of tay

In its time it has azed all discomforts
Lumbago thrombosis and plague
It has flattened the furrows on many a brow
And brought some people back from the grave

Since first it came this way from China
By Portuguese monks so they say
The Brits fell in love with its taste and aroma
Drinking gallons of it night and day

They tried to force us to be like them
In this and in all kinds of ways
While resisting their cricket their Kings and their Queens
We gave in when it came to the tay

We didnt quite care where it came
Darjeeling Hong Kong or Zhangzhou
It was put in a pot and served steaming hot
And for sweetness well one lump or two

It has heeded no class creed or blood group
Neither palate nor palace elites
Twas enjoyed by the Queen all alone on her throne
And the man diggin holes in the street

In Ireland it marked all occasions
Obsequies nuptials and news
From the birth of a calf to the death of a dog
It salved and succoured and soothed

So lets all raise a toast to our teapots
And the tay that is brewing therein
The Donald or Brexit wont faze us
Nor that wily old Russian Putin

Just put on the kettle to rumble
To boil off the cares of the day
Reach up for the caddy and scald out the pot
You wont bate a good cup a tay