Sencha and Semicolons

Today’s tea was Japanese Sencha. It’s an elegant green tea that we associate with our Gran because her default teabag green was a sencha. Aromatic and crisp, it’s a tea-like tea. Brew it hot and it tastes lovely. Let it steep too long and it goes bitter. We always pour sencha a bit early to dodge that particular problem.

Otherwise it was a slow day, and in the course of skiving off work we stumbled onto an article about the dying art of the semicolon; Apparently no one uses them any more. It felt a tad overegged; As per the article Virginia Wolfe was the last person of note to use a semicolon. We grant that no one else wants to wrap sentences around whole classrooms these days, but we can think of writers that still have a use for them.

They’re definitely few and far between, though. We happen to quite like them as a piece of punctuation because you can add a lot of what our dance teacher calls light and shade to a sentence. Not so anyone else. Ah well, we always were old fashioned. Of course, this article goes on to say that we’re all using Em-dashes right and left and we’re not sure we agree with that, either. Or maybe we read the wrong books. But the last time we saw anyone commit to the Em-Dash with zest it was L. M. Montgomery and she was being accused of purple prose.

We love her, too, we hasten to add.

Green tea and musings on punctuation. You can see the kind of exciting life we lead. Here’s a poem to go with all this nonsense by a Poetry and Cake favourite, no less.

Twould Be Nice To Be An Apostrophe
Roger McGough

twould be nice to be
an apostrophe
floating above an s
hovering like a paper kite
in between the its
eavesdropping, tiptoeing
high above the thats
an inky comet
the highest tossed
of hats

We first discovered this gem listening to a podcast on grammar, and thereafter supposed we’d misremembered it because Googling the first line availed us nothing. We got a bit of a shock when we saw the author, we can tell you! For someone that well-known the internet played properly coy with the composition.

City of the Scarlet Gown

We unveiled Irish Breakfast Tea this morning, and there really isn’t anything we can say about that except to express our profuse gratitude at finally opening something that will wake us up over breakfast. We love the variety of leaf teas this Advent Calendar displays but we’re desperately short of black tea and we’ve put off buying it expressly because we’re confronted by a calendar full of the stuff.

Thus, sufficiently awake and free of cotton-wool for brains when we looked up from hunting for Christmas cards -minimal luck, the selection was worse than sparse so late in the month -it was to help show St. Andrews off to visitors. Even on grey December days it’s easy to boast about. We had been traipsing through the Castle and were wending towards the cathedral in three o’clock twilight, and the sky was the loveliest wash of orange and grey whenit came home to us again how lucky we’ve been these last seven years. Part of it is the lifestyle of the people, and part of it’s the smallness of the town, and not a little of this is because of the sea and the fact that its in our blood even though we, like Coleridge hale from the city and cloisters dim. But there’s something more than that, an inarticulable something that we can’t seem to express. We alighted at Leuchars station one May -just to visit -and knew in our bones we’d come home. Andrew Lang says this best, so we’ll let him have the last word.

Almae Matres 

Andrew Lang

ST. ANDREWS by the northern sea,
    A haunted town it is to me!
A little city, worn and gray,
  The gray North Ocean girds it round;
And o’er the rocks, and up the bay,
  The long sea-rollers surge and sound;
And still the thin and biting spray
    Drives down the melancholy street,
And still endure, and still decay,
   Towers that the salt winds vainly beat.
Ghost-like and shadowy they stand
Dim mirrored in the wet sea-sand.
St Leonard’s chapel! long ago
   We loitered idly where the tall
Fresh budded mountain ashes blow
  Within thy desecrated wall:
The tough roots rent the tomb below,
  The April birds sang clamorous,
We did not dream, we could not know,
    How hardly fate would deal with us!
O broken minster, looking forth
    Beyond the bay, above the town!
O winter of the kindly north,
  O college of the scarlet gown,
And shining sands beside the sea,
   And stretch of links beyond the sand,
Once more I watch you, and to me
   It is as if I touched his hand!
And therefore art thou yet more dear,
   O little city, gray and sere,
Though shrunken from thine ancient pride
   And lonely by thy lonely sea,
Than these fair halls on Isis’ side,
  Where Youth an hour came back to me!
A land of waters green and clear,
   Of willows and of poplars tall,
And, in the spring-time of the year,
  The white may breaking over all,
And Pleasure quick to come at call.
   And summer rides by marsh and wold,
And autumn with her crimson pall
 About the towers of Magdalen rolled;
And strange enchantments from the past,
    And memories of the friends of old,
And strong Tradition, binding fast
   The ‘flying terms’ with bands of gold, —
All these hath Oxford: all are dear,
   But dearer far the little town,
The drifting surf, the wintry year,
   The college of the scarlet gown,
   St. Andrews by the northern sea,
      That is a haunted town to me!