More Tim.

The Tale of trembling Tim and the Tatty Tea Things:

One afternoon (actually it was a Saturday afternoon) Tim invited Hazel and Annie round for afternoon tea. He hadn’t seen Hazel for almost a week and he hadn’t seen Annie for simply ages and he was feeling a little guilty about it, so on Friday evening he had rung them both up and invited them round.

“Long time no see or hear, Tim; “said Annie. “I thought you’d moved or something and hadn’t told me. I was feeling quite neglected!”

Tim laughed and apologised.

“I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touch Annie,” he said, “but you know how it is, stuff just happens.”

Luckily for Tim Annie did know how it is as a lot of stuff had been happening at the Aardvark Advertising Agency just recently. Equally luckily, Tim didn’t say that Annie hadn’t called him either. He didn’t say that because he thought that Annie might get upset and when Annie got upset it generally seemed to be all Tim’s fault, or so Hazel told him.

Tim called Hazel. Unluckily, not a lot of stuff had been happening in Hazel’s life in the last week (actually the last ten days to be precise, she told him) and so she wasn’t quite as understanding as Annie had been.
“Well I just think you might have called Tim. It doesn’t take much to pick up the phone and say hello, now does it? I mean, it’s not as though you have a job or anything, is it?”

If Tim had been as concerned about not upsetting Hazel as much as he had worried about not upsetting Annie, he would have just agreed with her and said that he was sorry that he didn’t call. Unfortunately, he did mention that Hazel hadn’t called him either. Oops! What a mistake that was!! After Tim had said he was sorry for about the third, or was it the fourth, time AND agreed that yes, he was a selfish Tiger who didn’t think about other people’s feelings AND that everything that had gone wrong in the last ten days was obviously all his fault because he hadn’t called when Hazel really really needed to talk to him AND he should have known that she really really wanted to talk to him; well after all that Hazel agreed to come round for afternoon tea the next day. Tim put the phone down in a daze; he looked at himself in the mirror above the little table where he kept the phone.

“How am I supposed to know that the stupid squirrel wanted to talk to me if she didn’t call me and tell me that herself?” He asked his reflection.

His reflection crossed its arms and shook it’s head.

“Look Tim” his reflection said. “Just accept the fact that it’s all your fault, whatever it is. Remember the two magic words when you’re dealing with Squirrels and Aardvarks and you won’t go far wrong!”
His reflection winked at him then uncrossed its arms.

Tim stared at his reflection in amazement. He remembered that Hazel had brought him the mirror as a present. He must remember to ask her where she brought it from; clearly it was a most unusual mirror!
“The two magic words!” Tim shouted at his reflection, waving his arms about.
“What are the two magic words?”

His reflection waved its arms about back at him and said nothing.

Saturday morning found Tim a busy Tiger. Although his reflection had steadfastly refused to say anything more on the subject of the two magic words, Tim had spent a part of the evening communing with a couple of large glasses of his favourite single malt whiskey. The couple of large glasses of good old King Victoria single malt, guaranteed matured in a plastic cask for at least seventy two hours, told Tim that he ought to bake a cake and use his best ‘tea things’ when Hazel and Annie came round, as that would prove that he was really sorry for whatever it was he must have done. His best tea things had been left to him by his grandmother, Tessa the Terribly Den-Proud Tiger. The tea things consisted of a large white bone china tea-pot, a little white milk jug with a blue line around the rim, a white sugar bowl with a blue line around the rim and four white tea cups and saucers which didn’t have a blue line anywhere on them. Tim couldn’t find the cake stand that originally came with the tea things but he did find the little white plates for sandwiches, biscuits or in this case, cake. Cake? He’d never baked a cake before, so he switched on his computer and searched for a suitable recipe for sponge cake, because he remembered grandma Tessa saying that ‘one must always have a sponge cake with afternoon tea, Tim dear. Anything else is simply too much and spoils people’s appetites for their evening meal.’

After a few minutes, the search engine led him to a website, ‘EZE bake sponge cakes R Us” and he decided to make the one that had strawberry jam and cream on it, mainly because it looked nice and he liked strawberry jam. Off he went and brought all the ingredients and then rushed back to his tree and started to make the cake. Of course, this didn’t really leave him much time to clean the tea things that had kept in a box for so long, so he just quickly washed them and left them on the draining board to dry. The cake was ready just in time!

Hazel and Annie sat down at the table whilst Tim quickly laid out the tea things, poured the milk into the little white jug with the blue line around the rim and put the sugar in the bowl. He remembered to warm the pot and throw the water away before putting the tealeaves into it and poring freshly boiled water onto the leaves. He proudly carried the pot out of the kitchen and set it down on the table
“We’ll just let that brew for a couple of minutes whilst I fetch the cake, then we’ll have a really nice afternoon tea and a nice long chat to catch up on things. Oh, the tea is Viscount Black, I hope that’s OK for you both?”
Hazel and Annie both said that it was and Tim noticed that they both seemed to be finding something amusing. He didn’t have time to ask what it was because he had to rush back to the kitchen, take the sponge cake out of the oven and put the strawberry jam and cream on it.

When he carried the cake out to the waiting table, he found that Hazel and Annie were looking at the white bone china tea cups and quietly laughing, just a little bit. Not a nasty sort of laughing but more of a friendly, ‘Oh Tim, whatever next’ sort of laughing.

“What is it?” Tim anxiously asked. He was anxious because so far neither Hazel nor Annie had said that anything was his fault and he was thinking that that made a nice change and hoped that it would last for the rest of the afternoon.

Annie held her cup up and tilted it towards Tim so that he could see inside.

“These are very nice cups, Tim.” She said. “Have you had them long?”

“Ages.” Said Tim. “They were my Grandma Tessa’s. I haven’t used them for years but she was really fond of them and always used them for her afternoon tea, even if she hadn’t invited anybody round.”

“Yes;” said Annie. “Well I can see that.” Hazel nodded in agreement.

Tim looked puzzled.

“They’re a lovely white colour on the outside; “ commented Hazel.

“But oh dear, just a little bit brown on the inside,” finished Annie. They both laughed.

“You can tell this is a bachelor tree, can’t you Annie?” Said Hazel.

“You certainly can!” Laughed Annie.

They both tilted their cups towards Tim, who could now see that yes, the insides of both cups were a sort of brownie colour.

“They’re old, you see.” He started to explain. “They get stained and you can’t get the stains out.”

“Actually, you just need to wash them a bit more carefully, Tim dear.” Said Hazel. “You’ll find the stains will come out, but you’ll have to use a bit of elbow grease.”

“But don’t rub too hard Tim, otherwise you’ll break them and that would really be a shame because they’re very nice tea things. Just a bit tatty as they are, but you’ll soon have them gleaming again I’m sure.”

“You’re right, I’ll have them back in their original condition in no time.” Said Tim, worried that this was ALL HIS FAULT and that the afternoon would be ruined. “Shall I get some other cups or shall I wash these? I’ve only got mugs I’m afraid.”

“Don’t worry Tim,” said Hazel. “These will be fine for now, but you will promise to clean them properly won’t you? It’s such a shame to let them go.”

“You’re right.” Said Tim.

“Grandma Tessa would be really upset if she knew you hadn’t cleaned these properly.” Said Annie.

“You’re right.” Said Tim.

Hazel poured tea for them all. She used a little tea-strainer so the tea leaves didn’t get into the cups. Annie sliced the cake.

“This is really nice Tim. You must have gone to a lot of effort.” Said Hazel.

“You’re right.” Said Tim.

“Yes; thank you so much Tim.” Said Annie.

“You’re right.” Said Tim.

“Right?” Said Annie.

“I mean you’re welcome.” Said Tim.

After they’d had their tea, they arranged to go for a bike ride the next day. They would all meet under Tim’s tree and ten O’clock and head off through The Forest to the hill at the other side.

“You really should have invited us round for tea before this Tim.” Said Hazel.

“You’re right.” Said Tim.

“Yes, this really has been a lovely afternoon Tim.” Said Annie. “We must try and make this a regular ‘thing’. You’re quite a good cook, that sponge cake was nice and light.”

“You’re right.” Said Tim. “I mean, yes it was, wasn’t it.”

After Hazel and Annie had left, Tim washed up the tea things. He looked at the inside of the cups after he had washed them and decided that he would do them again and try and get rid of all the brown stains. He carefully used a scouring pad after he had wetted them again and was pleased to see that the brown stains gradually began to disappear. As he was admiring his handy-work, he heard a gentle chuckling sound. He wandered out of the kitchen, looking for the source of the chuckling. It came from his reflection in the mirror. The mirror! He had quite forgotten to ask Hazel where she had got it from!

“I see you discovered those two magic words all on your own, Tim.” Said his reflection.

Can you guess what the two magic words are?