Recently I visited the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-Upon-Avon to promote the upcoming Guild Officer elections. After my speech about what the SSO does and how they could run not just for my position but for any of the other non-sabbatical or sabbatical roles, I invited everyone to come and have a chat and ask me questions. This was my second visit to the Institute (my first being in campaign week for the by-elections) though I have kept in touch with them through email. Similar issues were brought to my attention that they spoke of when I visited the first time. Noting them all down, one particularly grabbed my attention: tea.
If you’re like me, a cup of tea solves many of life’s problems. After (or even during) a stressful day, taking a break with a cup of tea does not come without the ‘ahh’ feeling of warmth. Indeed, during the riots I took part in ‘Operation Cup of Tea‘, an anti-riots movement started by Sam Pepper. My time so far as a Guild Officer, milling around the ‘Sabb corridor’, has involved overhearing pretty much every Officer’s need for a good cup of tea at some point. I was disgruntled, then, when I was told that the University had cut funding for the Shakespeare Institute’s tea and coffee without even warning or consulting them. Kettles everywhere couldn’t even boil with rage. Mugs watched life go by in cupboards. Milk had only cereal to mix with. I certainly hope this makes you as sad as I was.
This is a central part to life as a student at the Shakespeare Institute. After the Thursday afternoon seminar which most students attend, everyone filters out into the social area to chat about the seminar topic over tea and biscuits. It’s usually free but due to the cuts has had to be funded by donations from the students. The Institute is such a small community where everyone knows each other by name. Most of the students are international or part-time distance learners who come in to the campus only when they need to. This requires some home comforts and warmth.
I remembered the joy of Welcome Week when new students, as well as sneaky not-so-new students, were given purple bags from the Guild with vouchers and lolipops and goodies… AND TEA! When I returned to Birmingham, I waltzed over to marketing to find that we actually still have quite a lot of Yorkshire Tea left that has been used to perk up Guild staff. A quick request was made and my mission was nearly complete. When I take some of the Guild Officers over to Stratford at the end of March, we will be taking with us a donation of Yorkshire Tea as a short-term solution for their tea woes. Ahh.
I hope you see some jest in this post: I acknowledge there are bigger problems that cannot be solved simply by taking a break with a cuppa. If they’re Guild/University-related, I’d be happy to speak about them. …over a brew and a digestive, of course.