“You’ll have had your tea” is a traditional Edinburgh greeting! “Tea” here meaning evening meal.
Well, I didn’t get my cup of tea, one Winter’s evening way back in 1984.
I had returned from ministering in Trinidad, and was just about to go to my next Charge in Perthshire in the March of that year.
Various speaking engagements had been organised for me, during this interim period, including this one – at a well-known (and well-healed) Edinburgh Kirk – one Sunday night.
It had been snowing all afternoon, and, by evening the roads were slippery and difficult to drive upon.
I struggled to drive there through the snow, and the ten minute journey took more than half an hour.
So, I eventually arrived (with some effort) to give a talk about what the Church of Scotland was doing on the Island, and my time there for the previous four years.
The evening service had just finished, and I wandered into the Hall.
People were standing in little groups, chatting, and totally ignoring me. Everybody, including the then Minister, had a warming cuppa in their hand; nobody offered me anything, nobody asked who I was & what I was doing in the building, and that included the Minister who addressed not a single word to me, before he left – never even acknowledged me.
Once the evening’s congregation had dispersed, leaving only half a dozen or so people, chairs were hastily dragged into a semi-circle, I was given the most perfunctory of welcomes (including the group’s leader saying to those present, “Thank you for coming out on such a wretched evening; I’m sure Mr Strachan won’t keep us too long!”
Then…my (shortened) presentation…. a muttered thank you about bringing some Caribbean sunshine into a dark, cold night…. and that was it.
“I won’t insult you by offering you any expenses, as you’re just a mile away,” was the parting shot. “Thank you”
I stopped at a nearby pub for a warming dram….. after all, I had had my tea (not!)
The very place
As cauld a wind as ever blew,
A caulder Kirk, and in’t but few;
A caulder preacher never spak;-
Ye’se a’ be het ere I come back.