The Brazilians I met were always so surprised that despite my being English I wasn’t cold, slightly rude and aloof. I veered on the side of rules rather than jeitinho, I was always on time for appointments, I didn’t become best friends the moment I met somebody as my heart took a few meetings to unfurl and allow a tentative foot in the door; I was shy but I was open and kind.
Our cultural temperatures run at different ends of the scale, but the English are not as cold hearted as our layers of emotional padding exteriors portray.
Be it because we spend more than half the year closing our windows and doors tight lest we let the damp, penetrating cold enter our homes or to chill our hearts; or because our parents or grandparents grew up as evacuees, as orphans, through hardship and hunger and chose not to buy into their difficult stories; or because we like order and ritual, rules and reason; but we English do like to bury the depths of our suffering and put on a brave face; restraining ourselves from effusions and gushing outpourings of emotion until we peel off some layers of our onions.
There are clues that everything might not be quite how it seems, we might be slightly distracted, dishevelled; our smiles might fade too quickly. If this happens there is one thing that can almost fix any situation.
The mere offering of a cup of tea is an olive branch, a comforting hand on the back, the arm. It conveys concern and a desire to support. It’s never a question. It’s a recommendation, a suggestion, a gift. “How about a nice cup of tea” is a solution. A remedy. It is understanding and both empathy and compassion mixed and crafted by somebody more gifted than the top mixologists… A friend, a loved one, a human being. Telling you without needing many words to express that you important to them, that you are cared for and that you are not alone.
We may struggle to express ourselves with the gestures, the vava voom, the heat of the Latinos but maybe it’s because less is more. Maybe we support ourselves more securely and need less external fussing. Maybe we just want to hold the big twist in the tale back for later. Maybe we find other ways to express ourselves. There is something about sharing a cup of tea with somebody that is a mutual revealing of a part of your soul. A respite in time.
Maybe you don’t want or need a cup of tea, but always look beyond the blend to the intention and human kindness reaching out to offer it to you. Be kind to us English, we have a lot going on beneath the surface of propriety! We are kind, considerate, thoughtful and caring. Give us a bit of time and we’ll show you. Surely life is a bit more interesting reading between the lines?!