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Monday, May 18, 2009

The Tea Lady


If you have seen one of my favorite/favourite British films, Love Actually, you will no doubt remember the Prime Minister's (Hugh Grant) tea lady (Martine McCutcheon) at 10 Downing Street. (By the way, this great film has an equally great soundtrack.)

Martine McCutcheon as The Tea Lady at No. 10
(Photo from the BBC)

The British tradition of the "tea lady" was first introduced in 1666 by a Mrs. Harris, who was the wife of the Housekeeper and Beadle (i.e., a worker who holds a special office) of the East India Company. Little did she think that, when she made tea for the Committee Meetings held by Directors of the Company, she was laying the foundation stone for a tradition that would not only last for more than 300 years, but would also cause a national outcry when most companies decided, in the 20th century, to replace the traditional tea lady with ..... vending machines.

Over the next few days, I'm going to pay homage to the Tea Lady, and share with you some real-life tea ladies from the past - and the present, if I can find them!!

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