“You’ll have had your tea”: 2012


I suppose in an ideal world of Tea Towel Blogging, I would write a blog most days, quite short, about 250 words, with a brief description of the circumstances around which I acquired it and any memories provoked by the tea towel.  This way I would be able to whizz through my collection of 600+ tea towels, keeping up with any new acquisitions.  But the world isn’t like that.  I get distracted; I want to find out more about the artist that designed the tea towel or the company that produced it.  And today’s tea towel is a case in question.

This is a very simple design, white background with a black sketch, carefully drawn, focussed around the famous saying “You’ll have had your tea”.  This is a rhetorical question to a visitor in Scotland, meaning that your host is making an assumption that you have already eaten and, therefore, giving you forewarning that you will not be offered anything to eat or drink during your stay.  It stereotypes the idea that Scottish people are mean with money.  ‘Tea’ in this case is used, in a Scottish context, to describe ‘dinner’.

I bought this tea towel in Edinburgh, in a small shop in the heart of the city.  I happened to see the tea towel in the window and thought it was cute.  What I hadn’t realised was that this was designed by Iain McIntosh, a Scottish illustrator who lives in Edinburgh and who has done all the illustrations for Alistair McCall Smith’s books: the Scotland Street series, the No I Ladies Detective Agency, Isabel Dalhousie series, Corderoy Mansions and many more.  The range of his work is enormous; I got completely distracted looking at his work on his website.

Then I got even more distracted by ‘Life in Context’, the range of goods with his illustrations, offered by Context Interiors.  Context Interiors has two shops in Edinburgh; it is an independent retailer specialising in vintage and retro goods with a Scottish theme.  My final distraction was looking through a ‘secret’ stash of Scottish tea towels that I bought last year in Edinburgh, that I haven’t been brave enough to put into the airing cupboard for fear that I will run out of space; I realised that I have two more Iain McIntosh/Life in Context tea towels, with different themes.  Can’t wait to blog about them in the future.

During my ‘research’ I also realised that the phrase “You’ll have had your tea” is one used in the Radio 4 show ‘I’m sorry I haven’t a clue’ which Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden mess about with and have developed into a show of it’s own: Hamish and Dougal.  This is a show I really love.

So from one very simple tea towel, I have now gone off on a tangent, found out a whole lot of information that I had no idea about, developed a love of Iain McIntosh’s work and seen a whole load more tea towels that I would really like.  That’s why wiping up takes such a long time!!

http://www.lifeincontext.co.uk    www.iainmcintosh.com

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