Tea in the movies is a real requirement when any of the characters are British. At least, that’s how it seems. So, tea being portrayed as an essential ingredient in a civilized life comes as no surprise in a movie adaptation of Jules Verne’s classic novel Around the World in 80 Days.
My favorite version of the movie was the one from 1956 (except for Shirley MacLaine as an Indian princess – totally unbelievable, but I guess no real Indian actresses were available at that time). The cameo roles are done by a Who’s Who list of Hollywood luminaries of that day. But of course David Niven is the standout as Phileas Fogg, a very proper English gent. I have it on DVD but ended up watching it on satellite when it came up on the schedule. It’s just easier to switch channels than switch the TV to DVD view, turn on the player, take out the disc and put it in the player. Phew! I’m worn out just writing that!
Since this is about a very proper English gent (and his very not-so-proper valet Passepartout), two activities are of utmost importance, even in his race against the clock while traveling around the world. One is the card game whist. The other is — can you guess? — tea time!
As Fogg puts it, “Crisis or no, nothing should interfere with tea!” So, be it sailing along in a big basket hanging beneath a hot air balloon that suddenly starts sinking or riding an elephant through thick jungle in India or bumping along in a train through the western U.S., nothing interfered with tea.
I mention all this not just because I like the movie, especially when enjoyed with a large pot of tea, but because there are many people out there claiming that they have no time for tea. Considering the advances in travel technology since Verne penned this book, you can now get around the world in about 2 days (per this source). So, that leaves 78 days for tea. Except that Fogg had tea even while traveling. Plus you have a lot of timesaving devices that should be giving you more time for tea. From electric tea kettles that boil water seconds faster to clothes washers to lawnmowers, the mundane tasks are now done faster and better. But wait — along with the timesavers came the time fillers: TVs, radios, computers, video games, movies… uh, wait, that last one is very worthwhile, especially when part of your tea time.
Maybe it’s time to make better use of the timesavers, less use of the time fillers, and have more time to enjoy a leisurely tea time! (Say that three times fast!)
See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.
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