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Pickle Me This

August 25, 2010

Hardly a good advertisement

“I’ve just made a cup of tea,” said Miss Caton, who was crouching near the gas-ring. “This will do you good– a strong cup of tea with plenty of sugar. I learnt that when I was doing first aid during the war– treatment for shock.”
Humphrey glanced distastefully at the tan-coloured liquid in the think white cup and waved it aside. “No, thank you, Miss Caton– I really couldn’t drink it– and where did you get that terrible cup?”
“It’s the one I have my elevenses and my tea out of every day,” she said briskly.
Humphrey took his mid-morning coffee elsewhere if he was not at a sale and was seldom on the premises in the afternoon either, so he had probably never noticed his typist drinking from the thick serviceable cup.
“Well, Miss Caton,” he said. “I can only hope that nobody has ever seen you drinking from such a monstrosity. It would hardly be a good advertisement, would it?”
“I take my tea in the back,” she said, on the defensive, “so no customer could have seen me.”
“And you, James– do you drink from such a cup?” asked his uncle sternly.
“I don’t know,” James mumbled. “I suppose I may have done on occasion.”
Humphrey exclaimed in horror.
“Perhaps a cup of China tea,” Miss Caton persisted, “though it wouldn’t have the same reviving effect, and without milk or sugar it might be too acid for you in your present condition.”
–from Barbara Pym’s The Sweet Dove Died

One thought on “Hardly a good advertisement”

  1. Kristin says:

    Did you like this book? It’s the one I’ve had the most trouble with so far. I didn’t find any of the characters particularly likeable.

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