I was raised with, let’s say, an alternative vocabulary. My sister Amanda, who’s only 14 months younger than me, completely missed out on this, but for some reason, sponge-like and impressionable, I absorbed all of my mum’s Aussie lingo. Singlet instead of tank top, lippy for lipstick, “how you going” replaced “how are you doing”, and cup of tea was dropped to simply a “cuppa.” Amanda skipped around, looking all Americana with her blonde pony tail and hard “a”s, while I was left referring to mascara as mas-cah-ra and strawberries as stror-berries.
The “cuppa” is an important ritual in our home. If it was raining outside and my mum was set to drive the carpool, she’d sigh and tell us we were made of sugar, and would melt if exposed to the raindrops. So inside we would stay, watching a Doris Day film while balancing a cup of earl grey on my lap as she painted my nails. After an hour or two of an excruciatingly boring school tour, my mum pulled me aside before we entered the Chem lab. It took little convincing for us to duck out early and catch a high tea around the corner. Somehow scones make truancy even more delicious.
Every night, every morning, if you are rustling in the kitchen and she is in shouting distance you will probably find yourself making a cup of chamomile or my current favorite, rose sencha, for you to share in front of the fireplace.