From the Heart

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I want to revisit tea and books, but in a round about way.

The other night as usual I couldn’t fall asleep, and watching TV, usually ends up being the answer.  I found myself surfing one of my most favorite television options – Acorn. Acorn TV is an American subscription streaming service offering television programming from the United Kingdom, as well as Ireland, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. I LOVE IT, especially the mysteries. Since it was late, and my goal was to get to sleep, I didn’t want to watch something dark and gritty, and full of explicit murder and mayhem, like Wire in the Blood, so I opted for the frail, fluffy and fleecy Miss Marple. Hopefully, there isn’t anyone out there who doesn’t know this famous female sleuth created by Agatha Christie. We always find her sitting in her chintzy drawing room in St. Mary Mead. Here this armchair detective watches the world go by with her eagle eyes, sharp mind and with her ever -present knitting in her lap. She is forever being underestimated by the people surrounding her, but she inevitably demonstrates her cunning methods of crime solving, often to the amazement of the police. So, sleep came while watching “Murder at the Vicarage”.

The library…

The next morning, I found myself upstairs in one of the girl’s old bedrooms, which now is “the library”, pulling down all my Christie books, and I do have them all. I set them in piles according to detectives and then pulled the Miss Marple ones aside. After some perusing, I realized that in many of the books, the characters are drinking tea within the first two pages.  For example, the first paragraph in Nemesis, we find Miss Marple drinking tea and reading the paper. The At Bertram’s Hotel, everyone seems to come for afternoon tea, described as…” the best Indian, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Lapsang…” In A Pocket Full of Rye, Rex Fortescue, a wealthy businessman meets his end after drinking his morning tea. It’s not surprising that Ms. Christie would refer to tea again and again in her novels.  She once admitted that she did her best thinking while “eating apples and drinking tea.” (Ariadne Oliver, a mystery novelist and friend of Hercule Poirot, is another of Christie’s characters, who is VERY fond of apples). And how about Hercule Poirot and his beloved his “tisanes”? He would often try to unravel a crime while sipping from a steaming cup of herbal tea and urging Captain Hastings to “use his brain cells.”  But I digress, back to Miss Marple… I realized after thinking about the books in which she appears, there were a lot of bodies found in libraries, vicarages, hotels: all great places for afternoon tea!

In St. Mary Mead…

Teatime is the hub of village life, a time when Miss Marple can use her razor- sharp mind while seeming like nothing but a harmless pink cheeked old lady. Throughout the 12 novels and 20 short stories, that she appears, Miss Marple solves some 43 murders through the simple expedient of using logic and drinking tea.  ” One does see so much evil in a village,” murmured Miss Marple in an explanatory voice.  Her soft blue eyes have witnessed the depths of evil, but there is always the solace in another cup of tea. Her most sociable meal is afternoon tea, when many of her cases are solved over scones and sandwiches, and she often commends her maid, Florence for making the “most delicious tea cakes.”  

 So once again, two of my passions overlap – tea and books. I’ll leave you with this statement from Miss Marple, “I think, my dear,” she said, “we won’t talk any more about murder during tea. Such an unpleasant subject!”

Here is a brain teaser for you…

How many cups of tea did Miss Marple drink over the 12 novels and 20 short stories in which she appears?

 

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