Time to get back to my promise to flesh out (love that phrase) the history of
Wild Tea Cosies. – the wildly successful book of eccentric knitting sculptures by Grandpurlbaa herself.
If you look at the cover of the said book you will see the subject of this story.
Carmen Miranda and The Tea Cosy.
There were two families; lets call them the Bountys and the Barrens.
The Bountys had a citrus tree which was much admired by the Barrens.
Mr Bounty, being a thoughtful man, felt this deep gap in his friend’s world and presented to him, on his birthday, a potted Lime Tree.
The next day, a Sunday, Mr Barren excitedly planted the tree in a vacant spot in his garden - west of the spreading macadamia and east of the loquat tree. From that day he lovingly tended it weekend in and weekend out. He watered it by hand; he sprayed it with soap suds to fight off the ants and scale insects; he peed on it occasionally because he had heard that this worked wonders for the productivity of citrus trees – something to do with husbandry and hormones he mistakenly believed; he pruned, ever so gently, and waited and watched and waited and waited.
Each year Mr Bounty’s Tahitian Lime produced an avalanche of fruit and these would be shared with Mr Barren and his family in a non patronising and generous spirit. And each year Mr Barren would watch as the fruit budded on his tree and struggled to survive and finally, each year, produce nothing.
Mr Barren was not naturally gifted when it came to gardening and hated nothing more than reading instructions, which is why he had inadvertently planted his beloved Lime Tree in a shady spot on poorly drained shaly ground. Still this was not known to him at that time and each year he found another excuse for his recalcitrant Tahitian.
After three years, and then year in which he obsessively loved that tree (call it a tree, yet it was still below his shoulder in height) his patience and obstinate optimism bore fruit in the form of a solitary lime. So amazing was this event and so heaven sent, that Mr Barren decided that this indeed was a blessed fruit worthy of celebration. He called his circle of friends and, in a state most of them could not comprehend (apart from Mr Bounty and his wife who had been witnesses to this agony), invited them to gather at his house to celebrate. Mr Barren, who had a penchant for excess decided to call this event the Hill End Lime Festival, for that is where he lived with his wife and two bemused children. He did not regard this as self indulgent or grandiose but simply apt.
To cut a long story short (for it subsequently became a much anticipated biennial event and there are many further stories to tell) Mr Barren invited friends to contribute something hand crafted for the evening in keeping with the lime theme. His plan was to auction or raffle these items to benefit a cause in need. Mr Barren having suffered his winters of trial understood adversity and wished to alleviate such suffering in others.
Among the works of art which were lovingly created for the night were a hand made mosaic tile featuring a lime in all its plumpness, a full colour portrait of a lime dignitary of royal descent and many more but of particular note there appeared a hand knitted tea cosy adorned with the most amazing set of knitted fruit bursting with abundance from atop this masterpiece. This Carmen Miranda inspired creation was the prized piece and despite the general closeness of the group caused some jealousies.
The raffle was arranged so that each winning ticket holder could choose which item from the fine array on offer they preferred. Such was the power of this citrus creation that as ticket after ticket was drawn each winner studiously chose to avoid the prized tea cosy, as if choosing would unleash a tidal wave of resentment and angst amongst this tightly knit group. Finally, in a fitting irony, after six tickets and six reluctant retreats from the opportunity to own this masterwork, Mrs Bounty was heard to cry as her ticket was drawn “Oh, bugger it. I’m not afraid of the bloody thing. I want it. And bugger the rest of you..”
Ahhhh. The perfect solution. The serendipitous homecoming of the prize to its natural resting place. No friendships were broken. No fights broke out. Justice had been served.
The second miracle of the night emerged over drinks towards the witching hour when Grandpurlbaa, as she is now known, confessed that, while she had knitted other tea cosies previously, this had been a quantum leap for her in her craft. It was evident that, until this moment, she had merely been knitting. The creator in her had suddenly been revealed and the rest, as they say, is history.
One small lime for a man, one giant leap forward in the art of the wild tea cosy.
Steve Capelin © 2008