Will that be tea for one then, Sir?

4th May 2007 at 01:00
I am, I believe, a Motherwell Baby, shaped by the beliefs of a lauded (though objectionable, according to my parents) doctor who put pregnant women on a high-protein, low-carb diet.

I spent my first five years in the town, living in a tenement flat that overlooked Brandon Street. This busy thoroughfare was a source of many attractions - fire engines, Salvation Army bands and dustbin lorries that tipped forward to compact rubbish.

A few years ago, I was involved in a Learning and Teaching Scotland project on formative assessment (hey, who wasn't?). We had to keep reflective diaries. As a result, either of my powers of erudition or the fact that I was seconded and class cover wasn't an issue, I was sometimes asked to talk on my experiences of the project.

Fearing that I would be greeted by a barrage of chewin' the fat, pretension-deflating impersonations when I said "reflective diaries", I disingenuously tried to get in first with: "I mean, I'm from Motherwell. We dinnae do reflective diaries in Motherwell."

They probably dinnae drink much green tea with jasmine in Motherwell either, but I bought some when I was on secondment. The first cup I had was on a day when I had to visit two rural schools, one either side of lunchtime.

I made myself a piece (sandwich to you non-central belters) and a flask.

Lunch was in a car park at the foot of Tinto Hill, in the sun, listening to Radio Scotland. All was well with the world, save for the fact that there was a faint whiff of something in the tea that reminded me of the time I accidentally set fire to a test-tube holder. Over the weeks, the packet diffused to the back of the kitchen cupboard.

Last week, I went on a bike ride through Black Law Wind Farm. I took a flask of green tea with jasmine along with me. One sip was enough to recreate that sense of well-being I had had at the foot of Tinto Hill.

I believe that this is the secret of time travel within your own lifetime.

Indeed, I am tempted to write a monograph on the use of differently flavoured waters in exam situations. Tempted, but we Motherwell babies dinnae really do monographs.

Gregor Steele also likes lemon and ginger tea

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