Monday 16 January 2023

A Nice Cup of Tea by Gill James, a nice cup of tea

It started with a sharp pain in her head. Glenda had had this before. When she'd got very cold. Putting on a woolly hat would usually clear that. Only she couldn't put a woolly hat on now, could she? It would look silly in the middle of June. It would pass. Just hang on in there.

Then there was something else. A sort of nausea.  Only it was nausea in her head. A strange taste. An odd sensation. She shuddered.

A cup of tea. That should do the trick. She started to make her way to the kitchen, only she bumped into the coffee table and then the door frame. What was going on? It was as if she'd been drinking.      

Molly was already in the kitchen. She was preparing the dinner? A bit early wasn't it? Glenda looked up at the clock. What time was it? She couldn't make it out. "What's the time?" she said to Molly. Only her words came out all funny.

Molly looked up. Her face screwed up into a frown

"Cup of tea?" said Glenda. She was aware she was speaking very slowly.

Molly went white. "Mum, what is it?" She steered Glenda towards the armchair in the corner of the kitchen. "You just sit there while I go and get some help."

Help? What did she need help for? All she wanted was a cup of tea. What was so difficult about that?   

Molly was ages on the phone. Glenda couldn't make out what she was saying. Molly seemed to be panicking, though. What had she got to panic about? 

It was cosy sitting there. The pain in her head was easing and that strange sensation was subsiding as well. Now, all she needed was that nice cup of tea.

The doorbell rang.

"They're here. Thank goodness." Molly rushed off. That girl ought to take it a bit easier. She'd end up having as stroke or something if she didn't look after herself.

A few seconds later Molly came back into the room followed by two nice-looking young men dressed all in green.

"Mum, they'll look after you now."

One of the young men said something to her but she couldn't quite make out what it was. That was a pity. He seemed nice.     

The two young men - elves, were they, dressed all in green like that? -  lifted her up on to a type of pushchair. What were they doing? Were they kidnapping her? "Molly, help," she cried.

Molly took her hand. "It's all right, Mum. I'm coming with you." That would be nice. They would go on this adventure together.

She recognised the big truck outside. Bright see-in-the-dark yellow it was. She'd seen those before and she ought to know what they were for but she'd forgotten.

"Soon be there," said Molly. "They'll soon sort you out."

The truck sped along for quite a while. Then they took her into a big grey building. Molly chatted to another young man but he wasn't dressed in green. He had ordinary clothes on.

There was a clock on the wall. She tried to work out the time. It was something about the big hand and the little hand wasn't it? The longer finger was pointing at five and the shorter one more or less at the four. What was that all about? 

The nice-looking man said something about "stroke". What did he mean? She wasn't a cat or a dog, was she? She didn't need stroking. All she wanted was a nice cup of tea.           


She woke with a start. She didn't remember going to sleep. Yes of course. She was in hospital. That nice man - he must have been a doctor - had said something about a "stroke". She'd had a stroke? Not too bad she hoped. What did they call them when they weren't too bad? The little ones? A TIA. What did that mean again? That she couldn't remember. But yes, the yellow truck - that was an ambulance.

Where was Molly?

Ah, there she was. And she was talking to a nurse.

Glenda looked up at the clock. Five past five. Of course it was. Why hadn't she been able to understand that earlier?

All she needed now was a nice cup of tea.

And there it came, didn't it? That noise was the squeaky wheels of a tea trolley, wasn't it?

The nurse and Molly came over to her. The tea trolley stopped in front of her chair.

"So, Glenda would you like a nice cup of tea?" said the nurse.

What a silly question. Of course she would. "Sip," she said. "Sip. Sip. Sip." She'd meant to say "Yes, I'd like a nice cup of tea." But all she could say was "sip".

Molly and the nurse exchanged a glance.

"It seems to have affected her speech," said the nurse. "It may only be temporary."

Molly nodded. "Let's hope so."

Why were they talking about her as if she wasn't there?

The young man who had been pushing the tea trolley poured out a cup of tea and put it down on the table in front of Glenda. "There you are, madam. There's your sip of tea. Just what the doctor ordered."

The nurse chuckled. "Sip. Of course."

"There you go, Mum. See. You can still talk to us." Why was Molly grinning like that? This was no laughing matter.

Glenda nodded. She went to pick up the cup but her arm wouldn't move.        

She used her other arm to yank the pesky limb towards the cup. There, that was it. She tried to grasp the cup. Now she'd got it. She attempted to steer the cup towards her lips but she missed. Tea spilt everywhere. Thank goodness it was pretty well stone cold.

"Oh dear, oh dear," said the nurse. "You'll have to let me help you with that, Glenda. We'll get you mopped up then we can get you a special cup."

What? They were going to make her drink from one of those baby cups? 

The nurse turned to Molly. "We'll get her started on the letter board later. Help her to spell out what she's trying to say."

Molly pursed her lips and nodded.

Glenda shut her eyes. "Sip, Sip," she whispered.

Didn't they know that all she wanted was a nice cup of tea - out of a cup she could hold with her own hands?    

About the author 

Gill James is published by The Red Telephone, Butterfly and Chapeltown.  

She edits CafeLit.

She writes for the online community news magazine: Talking About My Generation

She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing and has an MA in Writing for Children and PhD in Creative and Critical Writing


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1 comment:

  1. Eloquently engaging and frighteningly realistic. Great piece, Gill.