When I worked at the Eden Project the team of tradesmen I worked alongside had perfected the art of the Tea Break. In fact when I Tea Braked at the Eden Project the staff I worked alongside had yet to perfect the art of working.
I won't say a typical day but I will say it wasn't unusual for me to arrive at 6.50am, turn on the carpentry workshop lights (especially in the winter) pop into the “crib” room (designated rest area) and put on the kettle. I was rarely first unless it was a weekend. When there I’d check any admin requirements then return to the kettle and make a cup of tea. The tea bags provided by Eden were “Clipper Everyday” the very same tea I’d been drinking before joining the team, ‘ansom. At about 7.45am. I’d leave the crib room before the 8am team started. At about 8.05am I’d pop back into the crib room to say “good morning chums” and have a cup of tea. Another tea at 10am. (Sometimes coffee with the paying public) then nothing ‘till 12am when we stopped for lunch and a cup of tea. Then further cups at 3pm and sometimes 4pm then work until about 5.40pm when I would stop for a cuppa. My work pattern was 7am to 6pm, 4 days on 4 days off. The difference with the staff who worked 8am to 4pm 5 days a week was about 3 cups of tea a day.
But these tea breaks were important social gatherings. My two last lively tea break discussions I recall before I left Eden were Brexit and the last General Election. I think discussion is stretching it a bit. It was more of a trading of insults and rising tensions between the factions. I member being described as a knuckle dragger for holding views that some others disagreed with. Other insults were regularly hurled about but I particularly liked that one. Sometimes it bordered on violent. The stronger people’s views on either side of the argument the more amusement I gleaned. Oh! how petty their disagreements seem now following corona virus and the ensuing redundancies.
The tea breaks at Eden were just that, tea breaks. A far cry from some of the more edifying ones I recall.
I’ll pick out some of the memorable ones.
ECLP. Rocks Pit, working as a student. There were 3 students this particular summer. On a good day us students could complete a Sun newspaper crossword by answering all the questions in order. All the ‘across’ ones followed by all the ‘down’ ones. We were showing off. Our reward? The rest of the men could surreptitiously flick their used tea bags out of the window onto my car windscreen. They did.
ECLP. Treskilling Pit, same 3 students. We took our crib bags (packed lunches to you) and on a sunny summer day sat in the front bucket of an earthmover. The engine was still running. The bucket was, by agreement, suddenly raised. Two of us quickly jumped out leaving one poor soul to spend his whole break eating his lunch on high, to everyone’s amusement.
Poltair School. Technology department staff room. All gathered around a radio listening avidly when “Galtieri took the Union Jack” and Maggie sunk the Belgrano. Worrying times indeed. It was a lunch break in early June the following year when I looked at my colleagues in the staff room and thought “This teaching malarkey's not for me". Soon after I handed in my notice.
I ended working for companies contracting to the then DSS including Cornwall Council.
Time soon passed and eventually I found myself in more senior roles. I could then use tea breaks to meet staff. I recognised the need for staff to meet without management interference but sometimes, especially when visiting offices it was a great opportunity to get to know our colleagues. Even then there were memorable moments.
Whichever way you look at tea breaks they seem to be a valuable interlude. In my life at 10am everything stops for tea (very Long John Baldry). In these troubling times maybe there’s more need than ever for a tea break. With the new restrictions we, in our cul-de-sac, have re introduced our morning “coffee in coats" where we sit on our respective drives, cup of coffee in hand.
The Eden Project, regularly invite all their ex-employees to join them by having “Eden (Virtual) tea breaks” a great idea. These take place on Tuesday mornings and Friday afternoons. As an ex-employee I have a standing invitation. After extolling the benefits of tea breaks perhaps I should drop in. I think I will.
If I exercise my little grey cells a bit further and join together the benefits of meeting for walks as well as meeting for tea breaks perhaps I should think about instigating my own (Virtual) event.
I could call it the “It's Cancer Not Covid Coffee Club (ICNCCC) because at 10am I drink a cup of coffee rather than tea
Let me think!
So now there's a new Project for me to think about. Project Coffee Club. On Tuesday mornings (That’s tomorrow) I’ll make a coffee and at 10am I’ll talk to my laptop. If you want to do the same and do something with Zoom then I might pop up. Here's the stuff you need to know.
Meeting ID: 955 027 2972
Also, don’t forget I’m walking again on Thursday at Castle-an-Dinas.
And while I’m asking you not to forget there’s a Just giving page for you to visit at...