Cup Of Tea?

Entry by: Paul McDermott

23rd January 2015
“HOW much???!”
“Two pound fifty … please.”

The short but significant pause before the last word of the sentence (and the vendor's truculent tone of voice) betrayed the insincerity of the transaction.

“Ferra cuppa Tea!? Jesus F. Christ, kiddo, yiz gorra be jokin'!"
When Tom was angry or upset, the Received Pronunciation which had become habitual throughout his years at University invariably suffered, a hapless victim of his Scouse background and heritage.

“'s what it costs, mate”

As if in response to Tom's lapse into dialect, the vendor's accent betrayed his Cockney origins “I've poured it now, an' there's a Q be'ind ya ...”

Tom could almost hear the word “queue”chopped ruthlessly to a single letter sound. He glanced over his shoulder and raised his voice.

“So sell it ter one o' them! I know this is London but that's ridiculous! I'm not payin' f'r yer new stadium ferra thimble o' lukewarm donkey piss!”

Following the London Olympics, West Ham had been 'gifted' the purpose-built Olympic stadium for little more than a song by a failing Coalition Government desperate to curry favour and votes. This particularly rankled with Tom, whose beloved Everton (despite being one of the twelve clubs who founded the Football Association).were struggling with an ancient ground in an inner city location where possibilities for expansion or development were non-existent.

“Wotcher, mate: y're a looooong way from 'ome, y'know!”

Tom turned slowly and surveyed the room. The queue (or 'Q') was about half a dozen in number. Just beyond them he could see a couple of blue-and-white favours: he wasn't entirely alone, but even if he had been, he fancied his chances …

“Look lads” he said, making conscious effort to lose his regional accent and sound like a sensible adult moderating a petty spat between two ten-year-olds. “ … we didn't come here looking for a barney: we leave that sort o' thing t' th' red shite from Over the Park, or the Mancs! We come for the football, an' we've all enjoyed the first half, yeah? I mean, both teams have played well! So let's not spoil the party, okay?”

“I'm just not happy to pay 'over the odds' ferra cuppa cha when I can get a pint o' beer for less than that at home! So me 'n' my mates ...” He nodded to the other Everton fans at the back of the queue.

“ … we're just gonna walk out an' do without a drink. Maybe watching the second half will be a thirsty experience, but nobody likes being fleeced!”

Throughout his speech he'd been strolling casually towards the West Ham fans, veering slightly to the left. As he finished speaking, he'd succeeded in reaching the shoulders of the other away fans , and they could turn and head unopposed for the exit. The bemused expressions on the faces of the silent, statuesque home supporters suggested they all knew somehow they'd been conned, maybe even played for suckers, but none of them could say just how this had happened. As the door swung closed behind him, Tom heard the tea bar salesman break the silence:

“Right, 'oo wants this Rosy Lee? It's a bit cool, y' c'n 'ave it fer two nicker …?”

“Jeez, yer talked yer way outta that one, Our Kid!”

“Yeah,but we all know it's a fact: every Scouser's got the Gift o' the Gab!”

“I'm tellin' yer, it musta took some balls to rag 'em the way yer did! Weren't you worried it might all go pear-shaped?”

Tom paused before taking the last flight of stairs to return to his seat and nodded his thanks to each one of the group.

“Guys, I've never met any of you before, but I'm grateful you were there for me when I needed you! I never had any intention of starting a riot or anything, but as we're all Blues away from home I guess I knew somehow it would all work out.”

“But them Kopites …” he pretended to spit on the ground, as if the word tasted foul in his mouth “ … they aren't the only ones who will “Never Walk Alone”

“Tell you what I'll do, though,” he offered, when the laughter the comment provoked had died away, “Win, lose or draw, why don't we all meet up after the match and find somewhere I can buy yiz all a proper cup of tea – or maybe something stronger!”