Wednesday, January 23, 2013

After the Dinner was Over

          Mother and I were sitting in our dining room enjoying our afternoon tea.  I do so enjoy a cup of Darjeeling when it is properly brewed.  Mother does it exquisitely.  She preheats our English Brown Betty teapot, carefully measures one teaspoon of tea for each cup and one for the pot, and pours the hot water over the cup just as it comes to the boil.  She never makes the mistake of waiting until the water has already boiled.  Four minutes later and the tea is perfect.

Even though the Brown Betty is not fancy it does make a proper cup of tea; but tea, to be truly savoured, must be sipped from fine English bone china.  This afternoon Mother had picked the Staffordshire tea cups with the little purple violets.  She was in a purple violet mood, which is a good thing if you know Mother.

Last night’s dinner with the Whittingtons and their church group had gone quite well even though we had approached the event with some trepidation.  One never quite knows what to expect from church people.  The French Restaurant Bistro Watel had acquitted themselves marvellously and even Mother was impressed.  For my part I was relieved; there was not a single note of gaucherie in dress, demeanour, or conversation. 

I took another sip from my Darjeeling and meditatively nibbled on a whole meal biscuit.  There was a ruffling sound across the table.  I looked up to see Mother gazing at me over the top of morning newspaper.  She had been ruffling it for attention.

“Well, Alfred,” she said, “What do you think?”

I knew what she meant.  Last night was on my mind as well, but I was cautious.  “Yes, Mother?” said I.  With Mother one never quite knows what to expect.

Mother took the plunge, “I did enjoy myself.  The meal was excellent and the people were most acceptable; two doctors, an attorney, and their spouses.  I was quite relieved; our kind of people, and they invited us to sit with them in Church the next time we come.”

I felt a slight chill.  Reading Scripture was one thing, but committing oneself to coming to Church for a second time was quite another.

“Grace Whittington has invited us to attend the Christmas Carols and Lights celebration,” said Mother with an unaccustomed note of excitement in her voice.  Their Choirmaster has prepared a service modelled on the Carols and Lights from King’s College Chapel in Cambridge.”

“Oh,” said I, “as long as I don’t have to listen to preaching.  The last time we were there the sermon was too long.  All sermons ought to be twelve minutes long.  Twelve minutes is a super sufficiency of oratory if you ask me.  After all we are not Baptists.”

“Oh, wonderful,” said Mother, “I’m glad you are willing to come.  I’ll call Grace Whittington and let her know.”

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.  When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad” (Matthew 13:47-48).  

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