Tea for Two

I tend to experience mild panic if I have to mention the evening meal in conversations. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. But the problem is, in the UK it is a very confusing topic. Tea. Dinner. Supper. Who knows? I fear that I will create a huge misunderstanding and have to embarrassingly explain myself, red in the face and repeating myself (because that’s what I do when I feel uncomfortable).

I have had a looooooong comment thread about this on Facebook, pleading for some clarity on the issue, but all I have discovered is that there is no clarity to be had.

So far I have discovered that dinner is considered the main meal of the day, but this could be lunch or evening – and so for some people (or on some days) dinner means the evening meal while for others it means lunch. See, no clarity! I once invited myself to someone’s house for tea and noticed a rather shocked look on my potential host’s face and had to quickly add that I meant a cup of tea rather than an evening meal (see the first paragraph to picture how well I rectified the situation). In South Africa, if I’d said the same thing, the host would’ve known that I wasn’t talking about supper, but about a hot beverage and perhaps a biscuit if I was lucky.

Anyhoo…. the reason I write this is because I recently found myself in a situation caused by this exact miscommunication. Luckily, it was with good friends so I actually didn’t get all flustered and flushed of face. Here’s how it went down.

Text message from friend, let’s call her L: Do you and little man fancy joining us for tea today?

My first reaction: This is England, she means supper. Hmm, I’ve not been at someone’s house for supper since Little Man came along, but since they eat early, around 5, because of their children, it shouldn’t interfere with our bedtime routines too much. Ok, we can do this. Oh, I’d better check that she does actually mean supper, not a cup of tea.

Text message from me to L: Sounds lush [Yes, I used the word lush. I’m trying to whenever possible. It’s a Gavin & Stacy thing] 🙂 Just say when and we’ll be there!

See how I was trying to figure out the tea/supper quandary by asking what time she wanted us there?

Text message from L: We’ll be in just after 2, so about then would be lovely xxx

Bingo! It’s a cup of tea, not supper!

But then, to throw a spanner in the works, Little Man had a really long nap and I knew we’d be very late. Oh dear, I didn’t want to get there just as they were getting their supper ready and interfere with their plans. So I send a few texts to keep L informed of Little Man’s sleeping patterns, and eventually at around 3pm I phone her.

S: Can we still come over? Sorry we’ll be so late. We don’t want to get in the way of your routines and supper and so on.

L: You do know I meant come for dinner, right?

So much for my super sleuthing… I got it wrong, anyway!!

As I said earlier, luckily they’re good friends so we could have a good ol’ laugh about it. And Little Man and I were very grateful for the nice evening with friends (this was the week LOML was away) and the  * s p e c t a c u l a r * food.

More about the spectacular food tomorrow… 🙂


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