Tea towels

I’m in the UK for a week and, among other things, I am in search of Royal Wedding tea towels. What’s that, you say? Royal what now?

They do a big business here splashing the faces of royal newlyweds on tea towels, mugs and the rest (the refrigerator is awesome, by the way). Problem is, I haven’t seen even one and not for lack of trying. According to a pre-wedding report, Catherine and William nixed the tea towel as being indecorous and sufficiently lacking in gravitas to bear their images. But of course that did not stop the cottage industries from pumping them out.

The elusive William and Kate tea towel. I want! (Photo by Steve Punter).

They must be selling them under the counter or something.

All of this raises a question. What IS a tea towel anyway? Is it the same as a kitchen towel? What does it have to do with tea? And another question. If we Americans were to put images of newlyweds on towels, whom would they be, given that we don’t have royals? Movie stars or pop stars presumably. But those marriages have a brief shelf life and then so would the towels. Well, that was also true for Charles and Di. Nevertheless, I would have given a pretty penny for a tea towel featuring Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett.

Sticking people’s attributes on kitsch souvenirs seems to be less of an American thing. Although I wouldn’t swear to that. They do this in Italy a lot, although it’s most often the Pope or the naughty bits of Michelangelo’s David that get the treatment. There have been lots of papal images in evidence lately. The current guy of course. And also his predecessor. The one who was beatified last week. The one 1.5 million people crowded Saint Peter’s Square to see move one step closer to sainthood. Santo Subito (Saint Now!). The one who turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to decades of atrocities by pedophile priests. The one everyone seems to love. That guy. He’s on everything. Mugs, calendars. Maybe even tea towels.

4 responses to “Tea towels

  1. I am looking for the one about the “Cut Above Hoagie”

  2. i bet your friends would like them too, should you ever find them….

  3. And so? Did you find a tea towel?

    And this, courtesy of Wikipedia:
    “A tea towel (English) or dish towel (American) is a cloth which is used to dry dishes, cutlery, etc., after they have been washed. In 18th century England, a tea towel was a special linen drying cloth used by the mistress of the house to dry her precious and expensive china tea things. Servants were considered too ham-fisted to be trusted with such a delicate job, although housemaids were charged with hand-hemming the woven linen when their main duties were completed”

    Makes perfect sense to me. I don’t let my cleaner wash glasses or my best dinner service, etc. but always do it myself :-) I wonder if I can get my cleaner to ‘hand-hem’ some special linen for me ………….?

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