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Tea in the Movies — “Séance on a Wet Afternoon”

Confession time: I don’t always “watch” movies. Often, they are background while I write, which means I glance at them now and then but usually just listen peripherally while my mind is busy thinking of clever things to say about tea. The “background” movie I had on the other day was Séance on a Wet Afternoon that was recorded on my DVR. I was delving into the intricacies of the latest tea topic on which I was writing and just happened to glance up and saw this (photographed from my TV):

Watch for this scene in the movie, and see if you catch the second time you see this. (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)
Watch for this scene in the movie, and see if you catch the second time you see this. (photo by A.C. Cargill, all rights reserved)

Thank goodness for DVRs. I could pause the movie there and make sure I wasn’t projecting tea stuff onto the movie. Yep, it was really there. The man is one of the protagonists in the plot. And he had just ridden this iconic double-decker bus through the streets of London. Being a fan of Typhoo Tea, this caught my eye immediately. Talk about product placement (where companies work deals with movie directors to get their products on camera)! Actually, it’s hard to tell if this was done at the request of Typhoo or just happened that way.

The movie was filmed in 1964 (or possibly 1963, since it can be months or even years between filming and release to theaters), a big time in the history of the Typhoo company. They were packing more than 80 million pounds of tea annually and exporting to 40 countries worldwide. Company leadership had a big change, too, when J. R. Hugh Sumner, aged 80, retired and Managing Director H. C. Kelley became the new Chairman. A few years later, Typhoo entered into talks with the well-known soft drinks firm Schweppes, and announced on 24 January 1968 that they were joining Schweppes’ old Food Division to form Typhoo Schweppes. A year later, Cadbury’s joined in and they became Cadbury Schweppes Typhoo. Not sure that would have fit on the bus shown above!

In 1999 Typhoo became the first tea brand to introduce a green tea blend to the UK market. In 2004 they launched Typhoo Fruit and Herb. Quite frankly, though, their original black tea blend remains my fave, and considering recent reports touting the equality of health benefits from black and green teas, it’s best to stick with what I like and will therefore drink.

Back to the movie, I must confess that this was a plodding, dragging, crashing bore. And I hate movies where someone is kidnapped. However, being a British film, they have scenes peppered throughout where the characters are doing rather dastardly things while engaging in the extremely normal activities of pouring and drinking tea. The lead characters discuss the child they have kidnapped over a pot of tea. Chilling! And in another scene, she is putting the kettle on and lighting the gas burner while they discuss that the child feels a little hot (as in “running a bit of a temperature”). Quite a row going on as that kettle heats. But that’s one of the good things about tea — it’s like an island of normalcy in what can be a churning sea of life!

I’ll try to pick a more soothing “background” movie next time, since this one ended up being a bit of a distraction for my writing. Sigh!

See more of A.C. Cargill’s articles here.

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