The old china teapot was not the most glamourous of vessels, the design had long since faded and the spout was chipped in such a way that transferring the scolding liquid into a mug was often something of a lottery.
Nonetheless, Bruce was convinced that the tea, which survived the perilous journey from pot to cup, tasted better for the experience and thus the mild inconvenience of spillage was worth it. No other pot, opined Bruce, could ever match the quality of the beverage that was produced in his antiquated teapot.
In the early days of their relationship, Clara had tried to convince Bruce that this was nonsense. She had argued the merits of making the tea in the cup, had attempted to turn his head with other teapots, had even, through much research on a well-known internet auction site, managed to track down a near identical model of pot in better condition.
To no avail.
Bruce, not ungracious, had accepted the gift, indeed had accepted many a hot drink produced therein, but, as she discovered one morning when he had thought she was still sleeping, he continued to use his favoured teapot whenever charged with making his own drink.
In the end, it was an idiosyncrasy that Clara felt that she could live with. In all other respects Bruce was a model partner – kind, considerate and not generally given to strange obsessions in other aspects of his life.
But the infatuation with the teapot was perplexing.
It was not, as Clara had first assumed, any kind of heirloom. Bruce’s mother was as mystified as anyone as to its origins.
It had just appeared, one day, at some point during Bruce’s years of living alone. Even Bruce was sketchy as to when he had acquired it.
He just knew it made a fantastic cup of tea.
On the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary, Clara wanted to do something nice to mark the occasion. Though she normally refused to use the chipped china repository, reasoning that tea-making should be a less arduous affair, she felt she would indulge her husband with an early morning cuppa made the way he liked it.
What happened next was unclear. Clara couldn’t recall any recklessness on her part, but as she poured the hot brown liquid into the mugs, there appeared to be more errant fluid on the work surface than was usual. The moment when the spout detached from the pot seemed to take an eternity but there was, nonetheless, a parting of ways.
Bruce found Clara in tears, and reassured her as best he could.
But no matter how much he tried to play down the importance of the teapot, Clara knew that it meant something.
Bruce, for his part, took it well.
However, he remained reluctant to part with the pot, and though it clearly had no serviceable function any more, he held on to it.
Superglue was purchased and spout reattached to body, but, even then, it was clear that it would no longer be suitable for its primary function.
Still Bruce kept it as a kind of ornament, nostalgic for the halcyon days of the best cups of tea he had ever known.
He learned to appreciate tea from other pots – he acknowledged that the near identical pot that Clara had tried to sway him with did indeed produce a fine cuppa. But it wasn’t quite the same.
Until the day, some years later, when Bruce accidentally chipped the spout.
At least he claimed it was an accident.
Clara was never sure.
But it turned out the chip was the solution. Bruce rediscovered tea nirvana.
Clara, for her part, still couldn’t taste the difference.