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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour on "Tea Ladies"


This week at Uniquely Tea we're talking about the history (or should that be herstory?) of the British institution of The Tea Lady.

Not long ago, there was a great segment on BBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour called "Tea Ladies". One Tea Lady who was interviewed was Patricia Beveridge (yes, that's her real name!) who for many years was a Tea Lady in the House of Commons. Patricia shares some interesting memories in the interview, and reminds us that "When you're a Tea Lady you cannot repeat anything that you hear!" The interviewer Liz comes to realize that being a Tea Lady is "...not just about pouring the tea."

Wheeling the tea trolley through the corridors of power

Here's a bit of an introduction from that Woman's Hour program:
According to a survey released this month, the office tea break is one of our most missed institutions. The vending machine may be more efficient, but we seem to lament the passing of the tea-break chat. In most offices today the sight of the tea lady wheeling a trolley stacked with tea urn, bone china cups and biscuits is a thing of the past. She was revived by the actress Martine McCutcheon as the perhaps unlikely love interest of a British Prime Minister played by Hugh Grant in the romantic comedy Love Actually. But Liz Pearson's been finding out what it's really like being a tea lady in the corridors of power - where she met one of the House of Commons' longest serving 'tea servers'. And she also talked to Valerie -or 'mum' as she was known to staff in the Southampton office where she finished her tea lady days nearly twenty years ago.
To listen to the whole interview (about 8 minutes), pour yourself a cup of tea, click here and then on the button that says Listen to this item. Enjoy!

3 comments:

smitten by britain said...

Isn't it sad that she is disappearing. Sign of the times I guess. We were just told yesterday that we are no longer allowed to run a fridge, microwave, coffee or tea pot in our office.

Denise ~ Charleston, South Carolina said...

What a shame, Melissa. And I know from experience with the same situation .... bringing a thermos of tea (or coffee) to work just isn't the same. A big part of tea break/coffee break mentality is the ritual itself. Perhaps it's time for sometime to invent a battery-operated tea kettle!!! POWER TO THE PEOPLE!! ha ha

Angela McRae said...

Patricia Beveridge -- oh my, what a great name! (Am loving your series on the tea ladies ...)

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