Tea and Obstinacy

by Amanda Higgin

Xanda and I sit in my new room in college, catching up on our vacations while the kettle boils. We both agree that the increase in floor space is nice, but my view has downgraded from the cherry tree outside St Mary’s to the college’s exterior wall, with its brick patchwork of weathering and renovation. The kettle switches off, and I get up.

‘I have a dedicated tea basket this year,’ I show her. I have three different boxes of fruit teas, a bag of green tea and a white bag labelled ‘Rosy Lee’. ‘This is what we drink at home, carefully selected from the tea shop.’

‘Can I see?’ Xanda asks, and I toss her the bag. ‘Blended from Assam, Kenya and Sri Lanka for a bright and refreshing drink. Isn’t it just, you know, tea?’

I turn to her, kettle in hand, and attempt to raise my eyebrow. ‘Just tea? There’s no such thing as just tea! What do you drink?’

‘I don’t know. Everyday tea or something like that. It’s own brand.’

‘Ouch!’ I pass her a mug.

‘I don’t get what the fuss is! Tea is tea. I know there’s Earl Grey and stuff like that, but normal tea is just normal.’

I shake my head despairingly, ‘I will have to educate you. The ways of tea are complex, but I do know this: you are better than own brand.’

‘Look,’ Xanda says, ‘I’m wilfully ignorant. I’m an own brand tea kind of girl, stubbornly set in my ways. To quote Frozen, “people don’t really change.”’

‘Which song’s that?’

‘“Fixer Upper,”’ Xanda laughs, ‘it’s a line in the bridge which has always annoyed me. Kids hear that, especially the ones who drag their parents to the movie seven times and know all the lyrics, and they take it in as truth. People do change, a lot. I’m a different person now to who I was even four years ago, and I don’t think that’s just because I’m young.’

‘But surely that’s just you realising potential you’ve always had? You haven’t really changed, just become more like yourself.’

‘Have I? How do you know? Say I have the potential within me to become a sadistic puppy-murderer, which I might do given the wrong circumstances. I’m not considering it! But if everything went downhill in the future and I realised that potential, you would still say I’d changed.’

I tap my fingernails on my mug. I can’t keep playing devil’s advocate when I think of how different I was in year 9. Thankfully that was a good change, not a descent into puppy murdering. ‘It’s not like Frozen speaks for everyone in repeating the mantra “people don’t really change. Kids’ media is full of villains becoming good guys, and you get heroes falling from grace too.’

Xanda nods, ‘Funnily enough, not every content creator proposes the same philosophy. I just wish the ridiculously popular phenomenon which is Frozen had chosen the more positive suggestion that you are capable of becoming a better person.’

‘Does that mean you’ll let me educate you about tea?’

‘I am capable of change; I simply refuse it.’

The Poor Print

Established in 2013, The Poor Print is the student-run newspaper of Oriel College, Oxford. Written by members of the JCR, MCR, SCR and staff, new issues are published fortnightly during term. Our current Executive Editors are Siddiq Islam and Jerric Chong.

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