Dialogue from Untrue Stories

WELLS: (Sharply) Orwell! You and I may be bitter literary rivals but the time has come to put our differences aside.


WELLS: Because the tea is ready. No need to say thank you.

ORWELL: Well, let’s hope you can at least make a decent cuppa.

FX. Sipping.

ORWELL: Ugh! (Spits)

WELLS: Oh dear. Down the wrong pipe?

ORWELL: This is not tea.

WELLS: Fairly sure it said tea on the packet, George.

ORWELL: Look here, you idealistic antique. There are eleven rules to making a nice cup of tea, and they are all golden. Didn’t you read my essay on the subject in the Evening Standard?

WELLS: Let’s assume I’m one of the small number of people who didn’t get round to it.

ORWELL: This – this liquid is in clear violation of rule one, rule two, rule three, rule f– amazing, it’s all of them. You’ve got zero out of eleven, I think that’s the first time I’ve seen a zero.

WELLS: Oh my goodness. Are you the tea police now?

ORWELL: Rule one. Use only Indian or Ceylonese tea.

WELLS: Oh, I’m sure it’s from round there somewhere.

ORWELL: Not good enough. India or Ceylon. The rest isn’t tea, it’s food colouring. You know when they did that bloody partition I had to throw out half my stocks? Where’s this from, anyway?

FX. Rustle of packaging

ORWELL: Yorkshire? They don’t grow tea in Yorkshire. (Suspiciously) Is this gravy?

WELLS: I don’t think it’s actually grown in Yorkshire.

ORWELL: Rule two. Tea must be brewed in a teapot.

WELLS: I did use a teapot. There it is.

ORWELL: A teapot is made of china, earthenware or on occasion pewter and has a capacity no greater than one Imperial quart. That, sir, is an urn. Rule three. The pot should be warmed beforehand –

WELLS: I did warm it –

ORWELL: – on the hob. Not by swilling it out with lukewarm water like you’re rinsing the dog dish.

WELLS: George, you can’t heat a teapot on a hob.

ORWELL: Not if it’s an urn!

WELLS: You burnt down three Parisian hotels trying to heat teapots on hobs –

ORWELL: Well, they should have had proper hobs. Rule four. The tea should be strong. Six heaped Sheffield teaspoons to the Imperial quart. For drinkers over the age of forty, allow one extra teaspoon per decade of life. (Getting more frantic) Rule five. No strainers, no bags, no kidding. Rule six. One should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about.

WELLS: You can taste that?

ORWELL: Rule seven. No stirring. One need merely give the pot a good shake.

FX. Shaking teapot.

WELLS: You’re getting it all over the floor!

ORWELL: Rule eight. A cylindrical cup. Rule nine. Skim the cream off the milk. Rule ten. (Gravely) Possibly the most controversial. One should pour the tea into the cup before the milk.

WELLS: I don’t know about that...

ORWELL: Rule eleven. No sugar.

WELLS: I like sugar.

ORWELL: No you don’t, that’s just what Mr Tate and Mr Lyle want you to believe. Zero out of eleven. This – fluid is good for nothing but fertilising aspidistras.

FX. Tea being poured into a flowerpot.

WELLS: Fine. Make your own tea.

ORWELL: I will. And you know what? I’ll make it properly.

You can listen to the full episode here or read a transcript of it.