Poetry Treasures

I’m delighted to report that I appear in a poetry book alongside the recently passed and much missed Sue Vincent, Robbie Cheadle and others.

This is the link to the eversion; a paperback version will appear in due course.

If anyone would like a copy to review, I’d be delighted to supply one.

To tempt you to go further, here is one of my contributions. By way of background, when I joined the city law firm of Freshfields in 1981, the quantum of beverages available to staff were strictly limited; IV lines of strong coffee were neither available nor encouraged. To achieve this enforced caffeine abstinence, the powers that be dictated that every morning a coffee trolley would visit every room and one of the tea ladies would supply you with a china cup of a milky version of coffee; no choice (beyond a ubiquitous ‘take it or leave it’ – no plant milk, decaf, or some steamed Italianate version). That was it. In theory you could visit the tea room on the eighth floor to make yourself another brew but said room was home to the collection of tea ladies and I haven’t visited many places where instant male humiliation was guaranteed. If you desperately needed a second cup you could run the gauntlet of having your buttocks compared with the ‘pert little tyke’ on floor two or leave the building to find a local coffee bar and run the equally intimidating gauntlet of the receptionist who had to double as a Stasi informer, given the way she could intimidate with an eyebrow. In the afternoon the same tea lady would visit again with tea and a choice of biscuit (custard cream, chocolate bourbon or Lincoln cream). You were addressed by your Christian name and it was compulsory to return the flirt if offered. If, in later years you were elevated to the partnership (which happened to me in 1987) you became ‘Mr’ and were offered a morning biscuit and something chocolate covered in the afternoon (ah me, what it was to be a member of such an élite group). By then, I’d developed a thicker hide and happily visited the tea room to collect the best source of gossip. When we moved into the glassy and chrome newness of our Fleet Street offices in 1989, the tea ladies went the way of the telex and golf ball typewriters. We lost more than just that china cup….

The Coffee Machine

(a homage to the office tea ladies)

Where once the cups would rattle and clink

Announcing the moment for a pause to drink

We now have freedom to hover at leisure

And choose which beverage will be our pleasure.

But the change that’s reduced the trolley to scrap

And brought us instead mochas on tap

Hasn’t changed the need to gather and sip,

To gossip and moan, to joke and quip.

We herd as one inside the door;

Our mugs, as Oliver’s, poised for more.

Our chat, desultory, our focus keen

As we bow before the dispensing machine.

It bubbles, it fizzes, all spit and froth

Robotically delivers our chosen broth.

But I’m sad all the same as I take my fill;

Is this really better than when Emmy or Lil

Would visit each room with a twinkly grin

And knock to make sure it was right to come in.

For me, I preferred that clock-fixing cup,

When their cheery asides accompanied my sup,

And those ladies teased the nervous young man

That I was, back then, when my career began.

When I was green as the tea I drink

When I had it all to learn and time to think.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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25 Responses to Poetry Treasures

  1. Wonderful, and congratulations. I remember the snack trolley, but it was always a vending machine for drinks.

    Like

  2. willowdot21 says:

    Many congratulations Geoff. 💜🌈

    Like

  3. Darlene says:

    I love your poem. We never had tea ladies in Canada but it sounds so quaint and civilized.

    Like

  4. Congratulations Geoff. The nearest I ever got to the tea ladies was Char Wallahs in the Middle East!

    Like

  5. Erika says:

    Congratulations, Geoff! That is amazing. I like the poem about the (good) old times.

    Like

  6. V.M.Sang says:

    I love the poem, Geoff. And Congratulations on being included in the anthology.

    Like

  7. Ah Freshfields, so you know all about hard work, Geoff. I work with Freshfields quite often and they now do have a coffee IV to staff because how else can they survive the hours. This gave me a jolly good laugh. Thanks for joining in the anthology with these fabulous posts. I’ll link your post to my Sunday one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I saw the hours culture move through the gears but the advent of the blackberry and laptops from 98 onwards accelerated it beyond reason. By the time I drew stumps in 2013 it was, like now pretty inhuman. I wish I’d spoken out more but I don’t think anyone really understood the impact. The management still haven’t got a grip. As an example the new senior partner who is currently in Singapore described her day starting at 7 for the Asian markets, running through a burst when Europe work up and then ending the day in the wee hours linking to the US. Some role model.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations, Geoff! I’m sharing this post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Chel Owens says:

    Difficult to imagine a Geoffrey too timid to face the tea ladies. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Congratulations on a splendid poem and its publication. We had tea ladies at Mobil in the ’60s. They often gave me extra fruit cake 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jennie says:

    Congratulations, Geoff! Thank you for the backstory on the coffee room and tea ladies.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pam Lazos says:

    So very sad to hear that Sue Vincent has died. She was a lovely writer. Congratulations on the poem, Geoff. You have a story for everything!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Poetry Treasures, a new WordCrafter poetry anthology

  14. The Writer says:

    Loved this poem… Indeed a great one

    Liked by 1 person

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