This is a very strange thing I love. It’s not even that I’m a big tea drinker. A long time ago I used to teach
English in a school in St. Petersburg. I was only vegetarian then but it was still a very interesting experience
trying to explain to the family I lived with that I didn’t want to try the dried fish because “I might like this”.
Despite my expectations I put on a lot of weight that winter because I survived on dark rye bread, porridge,
fried potatoes or pasta with dill, thick soups and lots and lots of cheese and sour cream.
The people I taught ranged from age 4 to 18. I had no resources at all except a blackboard and a piece of
chalk. The children didn’t have textbooks and if they wanted an exercise book the parents had to pay for them.
This was a severe test of my creativity and patience. I had one of the naughtiest boys in the school in one
of my classes and the teachers warned me about him. Actually he was what I’d call a lovable rogue and
somehow I got on with him very well. He picked English up amazingly quickly and I could even hear my own Lancashire/Merseyside accent reflected in his speech.
On my last day at the school there was a big party and this boy sidled up to me with a beautifully wrapped box.
Inside the box was the teapot shown above, and a card with a note in saying “Thankyou for teaching me English”.
My suitcase was already bulging but I chucked a load of stuff away and lovingly packed my teapot. It’s been with
me ever since and everytime I use it I remember that boy and that difficult but intensely rewarding time in my life.