Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Pot Boy Spouts Off

THE TEA COSY

See the prior post for an introduction to one of the important issues of our time, having to do with proper headgear, general happiness, and decorum. Questions relating to this matter are answered here.

The Pot Boy Replies to Questions

annie said...
I don't have a tea cozy. :( Is there anything else I can use instead?

The Pot Boy: Sadly, no. After examining your very interesting and attractive pictures, I suggest that you of all people need a cozy/cosy in the house. You find yourself shivering amid all that shaved-off hair? Go for the cozy/cosy. Your elegant head feel all prickly and sharp with tiny pieces of hair? Drive that pate into the welcoming expanse of a cozy/cosy. Come in from a Savannah ice storm? Make a pot of tea; install cozy/cosy; take warmed cozy/cosy and shove onto head. Presto! Life is Georgia all over again.

zephyr said...
(OK here i am againwithout "blog speak" shorthand for"giggling happily while posting"anyway)i do not own a tea cozyhowever, the Easter Bunny gave me the most delightful chapeau yesterdaymade from a floral fabric that looks very much like it could be a tea cozydoes that count?because i think you have explained the slightly curious, yet welcome wave of silliness and general feeling of well being that i felt while modeling it around the house yesterday. i confess attributed the feeling to the lovely chocolate egg i was eating at the same time, but i'm now thinking it could very well have been my new tea-cozy-like chapeau. goshnow i'm wondering what marvels i might experience with an actual tea cozy...?oops...!maybe it was actually a tea cozy EB left in my basket...?

The Pot Boy: The unusual elevation of spirits suggests that this chapeau may have been made by an experienced maker of tea cosies/cozies (Will someone please solve this important question of spelling?) She (it is more likely a she than a he, I suspect, the great tradition of millinery having been primarily in the female line) may have inadvertently talked it into being a cosy/cozy. It is well known that milliners talk to their hats, a tendency immortalized in Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.

Keeper of the Snails said...
Dear Pot Boy,
As a long-time keeper of snails I am thinking of branching out and acquiring some peacocks. I was wondering if you have any valuable advice in this regard. Do you think peacocks would be more troublesome than snails, for instance, and do you have any tips for sprucing up peahens who in comparison always seem to be so very dowdy.

The Pot Boy: It will not matter if the peacocks are more troublesome than snails, because soon after they arrive you will have no more snails--hence the level of trouble will be about the same. You will then have to change your blog to "Keeper of the Peas" or "Keeper of Peacocks & Dowdy Peahens" or "Something of That Sort."

However, you may find the tiny screams of impaled snails to be exquisitely painful.

The peahen is certainly a plain little tea cup next to the grand and glimmering Aurene vase stuffed with Himalayan blue poppies that is the peacock. If it is the hen's spirits you are concerned about, I recommend starting the decorating with the ankles. Those little peahen heads are quite often bobbing about at the ankle level, and a few inexpensive ankle bracelets ought to jazz up self-respect and keep the peahen pleased with her loveliness.

Jan said...
I inherited several tea cosies when I cleared out an aunt's house; I gave them to Oxfam. Now I am regretting this.

The Pot Boy: I call this extraordinary generosity to Oxfam. I must drop them a line that an English tutor is in line for a medal (tea cosy rampant upon crossed eyes.)

Susangalique said...
Does the Pot Boy think its ok to write publicly about killing a cricket in the middle of the night? or does it make one sound like a murderous beast? I would as soon hear the beating of pots than a lone cricket.

The Pot Boy: Given your current status as hapless student being boiled in the oil of exams, I think we may forgive much. But the beating of pots is as music to a Pot Boy's ears!

zephyr said...
Dear Pot Boy, i am here to report that the floral topper left by EB in my basket on Sunday fits the 6 cup "Brown Betty" (tho ours is cobalt blue Betty) teapot of the house just fine. And, i must add, it is lined, making it quite cosy (and cozy), in my humble estimation. Also, some more information for you to consider as you meditate on this matter:the consensus of the household is, after i have modeled it about, that i should refrain from wearing EB's gift out and about around town. Further deliberation and experimentation reveals that it looks quite nice on the counter and table top...so, it seems to me that it could be seriously considered, even though it does not fit the exact domed profile of the ideal cosy. Perhaps there needs to be a period of time where its role is clearly defined, a prescribed period of actually cosy-ing the teapot before it can fulfill its cosy role?

The Pot Boy: This case grows curiouser and curiouser. I consider my first opinion to me a lucky hit, and I suggest that the "floral topper" is, indeed, of confused identity. This is rather like the trendy, longwinded academic topic of gender identity but more easily mastered. My suggestion is that you place said floral topper upon the cobalt blue Brown Betty at least once a day for a week, making sure the pot is quite hot and full of some classic tea (no herbal muck, no tea with "tinctures" of apricot and so on. (Brown Betty is quite fond of pouring out Earl Grey.)

The suggestion that the floral topper not be worn "out and about" is a quite a hint, isn't it?

Consider how very few people actually choose to wear a cosy/cozy (Somebody! Please! Spelling!) "out and about," and that of those, a good many end up in the looney bin. *

*The Office of Palace P. C. respectfully reminds the pot boy that "looney bin" is not on the acceptable list "out and about" in the world.**

**The Pot Boy respectfully tells The Officers of Palace P. C. to soak their heads in an over-sized Dansk teapot.***

***The Office of Palace P. C.: Tsk.

jarvenpa said...
Oh, gosh. Now I am wishing that I had my grandmother's Brown Betty teapot (it was a true Brown one, brought over from England by my grandfather after the war...the first world war, that would be). But I never ever have had a tea cozy. Nor, for that matter, have I hats, except one with purple fuzz crocheted for me by a friend. It looks something like a demented, wrongly colored flower and stands out from my head.Perhaps that will work?And does the Pot Boy do house calls? (or bookstore calls?). I notice the little dust mice are growing into large rabbit size clumps.

The Pot Boy: Alas, my specialty is large, encrusted pots. I am also willing to take on scullery maids.

I wish you had that Brown Betty. And I wish she could be properly clothed in a generous English chintz cosy/cozy. (Sigh. Which?) I trust that you do have a teapot. And since you live in a cabin torn open by a large bear, I believe that any teapot wild enough to reside in such a spot will be willing to wear a demented purple flower for a cosy/cozy. This attire appears to fall into the category of "camping out."

* * *

Thank you, dear visitors, for helping me fulfill by dream of being a Palace Advice Columnist. While I am devoted to the pots, there is more to life than pots. There are scullery maids, and there are other delights.

***
The photograph at top is courtesy of www.sxc.hu and Piotr Bizior of Poland. He took this picture of "tea gardens in India, Munnar, Kerala State." Click the image for a big view!
***

24 comments:

  1. Pot Boy has convinced me: my life is incomplete. I must have a tea cosy, and then, surely then, I will find my bliss.

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  2. Never good at spelling. Is it cosy? Cozy?
    I do have a teapot residing in the bear torn house: it is a bone china teapot, one of the survivors of a set acquired by my father in Japan when I was a child. It has a painted design featuring Mt. Fuji and some trees and random dots pretending to be birds and flowers.
    The purple flower hat would match nicely, now that I think of it.
    A pity you do not take on dust bunnies. I could offer up my beautiful daughter...but her boyfriend would probably object.

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  3. jarvenpa,

    Thanks for your generous thoughts! And the hat sounds perfect as a warmer for a teapot with Mt. Fuji and some helpless dots.

    Teapot dots...

    patry,

    I do not know if it will mean your bliss, but it will certainly mean your hot tea and warm crown!

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  4. Pot boy,

    As soon as I have my sewing machine again, I will make for you an insulating garment for your teapot which is reversible, inscribed with COSY on one side, and COZY on the reverse.

    Would this help or hurt your indecisiveness with terminology?

    (Also, thanks for the flattery and advice. You have a valuable voice in these trying times.)

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  5. Dear Pot Boy,
    Thank you so much for your wise counsel.
    It is so comforting to know we can depend on you. Does anyone in the palace have an inkling of your true gifts?

    as to the cosy/cozy dilemma, i am wondering if this is maybe a case of UK English (cosy) and US English (cozy)...in which case i would think the UK speakers have final word, since tea cosies probably arrived on US shores with them...at least i'm assuming so. Hmmm, where are the cosy/cozy anthropologists when you need one?

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  6. zephyr,

    How astute you are in your suggestions. I'm afraid it's true; no one has an inkling of my true gifts, in or out of the Palace. I'm doomed to bloom in the shade, unseen, unasked. Any question might be my last, the end of my career as Palace Advice Columnist. So I just go on meditatively scrubbing the pots...

    I have seen an etching of a Puritan in strange, drunken-looking headgear that I suspect was a much-loved cozy toted from the wilds of Leceistershire or the shores of Holland or some such.

    Perhaps an anthropologist will turn up. Futile, feeble hope.

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  7. Well it never occurred to me that such an object was of international interest.

    I think it is spelt with an s in English. A z in American English, (pronounced zeeee) A z in English (pronounced zed) The normal rule is to use an s in English and a z in American English. This is how it seems to work on a computer spell checker in “American English mode”.

    Not fair excange for a beautiful daughter.

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  8. Marly

    I am so glad you have pictures on your blog. I wonder if your books have illustrations. I have very strong views on this. It makes such a difference to me and holding/ capturing my interest. So many of us are visually orientated.

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  9. (taking no offense, and writing with a free spirit) Isn't it a little UK-centric to say they/you speak English there and American English is spoken/written in the States?

    If the base language is the same, and we understand each other despite regional word choices, accents, and occasionally spelling, shouldn't each region identify itself when regional differences come into play? ;)

    Polyglot! Semantics!

    I'm only an anthropologist on weekends. And on the internet.

    But I think the favoring (and renaming) of Z(eee) in the US deserves a good folk legend. Like how Z trees are native to North America, and cost too much to import to the British Isles.

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  10. Robert and Annie,

    I shall let the commenters decide, for I am a mere Pot Boy and no anthropologist!

    And I vote Annie in charge of promulgating urban, suburban, and wilderness legends on the matter of Z.

    Yes, beautiful daughters are hard come by, and tea coseries are available.

    I shall go and ask Herself to address the matter of pictures. She is supposed to be working on Monday night's talk that may or may not be snowed out by the promised massive spring snow.

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  11. Robert,

    I'm afraid that publishers spend their pictorial energies on that item known as the "dust jacket."

    None of my novels have much more than that little item, though Farrar, Straus & Giroux's Catherwood has pretty forest division pages between the sections of the book. They also gave The Wolf Pit faux-aged pages for the prefatory pages. My first book, Little Jordan is a pretty object; Godine used photographs on the jacket but the title page has a lovely engraving. My LSU poetry book has a jacket with photograph. You would have to judge for yourself whether the prose is vivid or no!

    The two FSG "y. a." (I hate that term) fantasy novels both have scrumptious jackets. The Curse of the Raven Mocker has a jacket by artist Steve Cieslawski in the FSG hardcover; Steve is no longer doing book illustration, as he has had so much success with solo shows at CFM Gallery in New York. That book has a cover by Renato Alarcao in the Firebird paperback. Renato did the jacket for Ingledove, as well as a frontispiece. He is a very interesting Brazilian artist who is getting more work in the states these days. He gave my former editor, Robbie Mayes, many proposals for jackets, and those images are on my web site and on the blog, so you could call them up as a group by using Google images, I imagine. There are more than twenty, and all lovely--to various degrees finished, some being sketch proposals, others more finished.

    Half of my books can be had on the cheap via Amazon or abe.com or Alibris, as many of them have gone out of print in the usual way of 'midlist' books. Only the poetry book and the two children's books are "in print."

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  12. Oh Annie
    It never occurred to me that anyone would think there was any "problem" about our language differences. Please forgive me.
    Yes there are some English people who regret the American words, spelling and idiom that have crept into our version but I don't think we are as touchy as the French about the “invasion of their language”!
    On the contrary I enjoy the differences and spotting them, it is quite entertaining. However until a few months ago I thought American English was very different because of the influence of Hollywood and the various soap operas we have on television here. Sometimes the actual spoken word (as opposed to the written word here on the blogs I read) is quite difficult to understand and often there is no real translation of expressions we just do not use. It would be true to say the same of some English regional accents and also to Irish and Scottish ones too. Your “southern” accent is very distinctive. I would not necessarily spot a Canadian but I suspect they might be annoyed with me! It is a terrible sin to mistake an New Zealander for an Australian and as for the Southern African version of English well let’s move on!
    In French too , use of language and accent can some times pin you down to a local area, your education and your social position, is this not the same in the States?
    I would never use the word “dude” for example, yes I have heard it lots of times and after checking I was not offended at being referred to as one! I used a term on my blog meaning very pleased/ happy, but in American English it was very vulgar I understand! The best known word differences of course are hood , boot, back yard, etc.
    All good fun and makes life more interesting!

    Marly I will find a book of yours soon.

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  13. An international crisis!

    What next?

    Robert, you are very sweet... I will still think you sweet even if you never stub your toe on one.

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  14. Okay, so blogger ate my post, and I must repost.

    I simply must now get a cosy as well. I have always wanted one. My mother, a northerner, and my offspring, have also told me that they considered them irrevalant and unnecessary. But, now that the pot boy has pointed out that they can do double duty, I simply MUSt add one to my hat collection. I also want a Brown Betty teapot. I have several others including a dragon one from China. But a Brown Betty would be fabulous.

    I am, obviously back online. I updated my site today. The crisies are at least managable now, so I am back to doing artwork.

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  15. b. q.,

    In some things we must be divided, even from our family members... Who can say why I was driven to be a Pot Boy, and why meditative circles of the scrubbing arm mean so much to me?

    I imagine you next to the dragon pot in a crimson and purple cosy with pumpkin-colored trimmings.

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  16. sorry you got snowed out. How dare the weather do something like that to you!

    Maybe you can just keep all your notes on file and have all your prep work done. By then you may have some new opinons.

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  17. Or perhaps I shall have forgotten my old ones!

    Susanna,

    I have not yet learned any power over the weather. But perhaps it is just as well that the talk is cancelled, because snow day children want to play! The number of children around here is increasing all the time...

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  18. Wise advice, dear Potboy. Ankle decoration sounds just the thing - with delicate little bells and tiny star-shaped flowers. I am a little concerned about the demise of my snails, however. I think I might have to have separate compounds because I am greedy for both.

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  19. Perhaps you ought to take a train straight back to London and search for such a thing! Or perhaps they will have to be specially made.

    It will be a job to keep the peas away from the snails, I fear. But if anyone is up to the job, it is a Keeper of Snails.

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  20. Sorry the queen and palace staff are snowed in.

    We had a tornado go through here, but the palace in the grove was not affected accept for a few small limbs and new leaves in the yard.

    Dear Pot boy, I love the idea of a crimson and purple cosy with pumkin trim. Perhaps I shall have to make one, and brew a pot of tea in the dragon teapot. If I do I shall send a picture.

    Hope you all dig out soon.

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  21. Breath shall be bated until that astonishing picture arrives!

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  22. How is it be possible to have lived for 41 years and never to have heard of tea cosies - or pot boys? I think I should stop neglecting fiction. If I read novels like a real intellectual, I'll bet I'd know this.

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  23. Dave,

    How does one read them like a real intellectual?

    Maybe you just don't hang out in the kitchen enough!

    On the other hand, you get enough of the cheerful fresh air of nature that you might not need a cosy/cozy. I've already forgotten which one it is, American-style. I'll have to reread the comments.

    I must say that it's not a bad idea to have a Pot Boy in a novel. Or a poem, or most anything. We're useful, see. Our heads may be floating in the clouds, but our hands are busy with the detritus of earth.

    And this Pot Boy answers questions, to boot!

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  24. I can see here so hot teapot discussion! I think you'll be interested to look at these teapots!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.