I had a vision today, as I was wheeling Cavechild to sleep along our stony track, carved into barely passable furrows by a month’s lashing of rain. Perhaps it was the tranquil susurrations of the snowmelt as it rushed through the irrigation canals that inspired my epiphany; perhaps it was the sighing of the eucalyptus, the peaceful descent of an orange to my right, or the twang of a pebble as it was kicked up by the pushchair wheels and dented my shin. Regardless, it was a moment of pure, unsullied insight.
It came to me in the form of a teapot. And yet it was no ordinary teapot: it had handles on all sides, accessible to all, and spouts that could reach even the most far-flung of cups. It emerged through the fuzz of tiredness that swaddled my brain as a beacon of unity, a totem of our connectedness as humans. It called out to me: drink up! Your teacup overfloweth! Hurry home before it gets cold!
What more unifying force is there than a friendly pot of tea, shared in an act of sacred communion between careworn, frustrated humans, each one trying to overcome their fear of vulnerability, sip by sip? It is an olive branch, extended shakily over sandbag defences, in the trust that it will be reciprocated by another pouring.
And in the pouring of the tea we feel – perhaps for the first time in our petty, humbug lives – the thrill of generosity, of a wanton giving that does not think of whether there are more bags in the box. Who cares if we run out? There is always more, at the shop on the corner.
Mugs, by contrast, smack of individualism. What intimacy is there in a mug? It is separate, selfish, oblivious of what our companions are drinking. A mug is redolent of studenthood, sitting alone at a desk, joints stiff from lack of sleep and movement, eyes stinging with tiredness, sentences on a computer screen floating about meaninglessly as they are cut adrift from the immediacy of human interaction and rendered hollow and dead.
Yes, the teapot is, I believe, the answer to our atomised state, the only way to raze our fortresses of detachment. It may take twenty pots; it may take a hundred. But with little more than a kettle and a bit of determination, we can heal our rifts and create a better world.