My mum is, by nature, one of the most caring and motherly individuals on the planet. As such, during a discussion with my flatmates recently, I told everyone in attendance that no matter what happens when I go home, she'll always end up making pretty much all the cups of tea for everybody else because she loves making sure everyone is properly fed and watered. I even went so far as to predict that even if I tried, she'd still end up making more cups of tea than me when I next visit. I visited from Wednesday to Sunday last week and kept a note of this inaugural Tea Making Competition, of which only one participant was even aware that it was taking place. How could I lose?
I got out of the car on Wednesday afternoon and Mum immediately said she needed to take the dog out for a run. Sensing an opportunity, I headed inside to boil the kettle. By the time she came inside, I was already 1-0 up. Go me. My oblivious competitor had no chance! Of course, Mum wasn't aware of my silent gloating as she enjoyed the first Henry-made brew of my visit and as I sat there downing my beverage, the taste of victory was but a few days away. After dinner that evening, I returned to my room and ventured down an hour later upon hearing my name called. To my despair, it was 1-1. A clever tactic. Mum had drawn level when making a pre-Apprentice cuppa for the entire household. I should have known. Not to worry, I headed to bed a few hours later, content in the knowledge that since only I knew I was taking part, I would probably surge ahead in the coming days.
Imagine being woken up with a cup of tea. Wonderful, eh? Well, no actually. This was exactly what I was greeted with the next morning. A perfect day ruined as soon as I opened my eyes. 1-2. If I wasn't careful, this could turn into a thrashing. I ate my banana, slurped at my orange juice and wondered if these extras should add to Mum's tally. Absolutely not. She was simply lulling me into a false sense of security by showing what else she could do for me. No, I would hit back.
1-3. Never mind. Sometimes hitting back takes time. I had no chance with this one as I was called in to have lunch after helping in the garden and the tea was already there waiting for me. Mocking me. I then headed out to see a friend for the rest of Thursday so I couldn't claw back any points for the next few hours either. Devastated isn't the word. It's rather difficult to get your head around losing in a competition only you know you are a part of. It's frustrating, demoralising and ludicrous. I wouldn't recommend it. C'est la vie.
As Friday arrived, everyone was at work so I made a few teas for myself. I could have made spares - which would have gone to waste - but that felt like cheating to enhance my points tally. As it was, I crawled the score back to 2-3 as soon as Mum got in. Having said that, she actually came in, said hello and instantly flicked on the kettle so even that wasn't a comprehensive point for myself. To add insult to injury, the two point margin was once again on the table; I forgot about the post-dinner cuppa once again and as I drank the contents of my mug, I wasn't sure this lead was surmountable. 2-4.
Heading into the weekend, I felt I could really do some damage to my opponent here. Unfortunately, Mum was out all morning so I bided my time until lunch, when I started preparing us some dinner. Like a ninja though, I turned around from the hob to see a cup of tea already there! How...? 2-5. I didn't even know she had returned! I feel Mum was aware this was a low blow as I was asked for a tea later in the day and at 3-5, I felt confident that I was on the up. Alas, It wasn't to be. The stupid evening drink got me for the third time during my visit and at 3-6, I saw no hope of levelling the competition as we headed into the final day. For any professional cricketer who has gone into the final day of a Test match knowing you were on a hiding to nothing, I now know how you feel.
I've decided my strengths are in the morning rounds, something Mum clearly realised sooner than I as she was once again out until noon on Sunday as well. No matter. This gave me time to ponder an approach when she returned. It wasn't to be. She rejected my offer of a tea upon arrival and opted instead for a ground coffee from the cafetiere. Ground coffee! A cafetiere! Clearly, there was some showboating going on! To add insult to injury, I ended up making my loser's tea with a tea bag, sugar and boiled water that had already been prepared by my caring opponent. I couldn't even win when she wasn't trying! With the score at 3.5 - 6.5 (I had offered and had completed the pouring of water/milk), I felt there was no reason to even carry on. This feeling was enhanced when I was brought a cup of tea completely out of the blue 45 minutes later. Another one followed before my visit came to an end. At 3.5 - 8.5, I'm not really sure what conclusion I can come to.
It was a nice visit, but I can't help but think I was being mocked by my oblivious opponent towards the end. Round two will surely be an exciting prospect. I'll be sure to keep you informed.