Polly The Opera

Back in the early 2000s I wrote my first version of Polly The Opera, you know the one who famously put the kettle on. My mother stared as Polly and we produced the opera for a season in The Adelaide Fringe.

Several years ago, I started rewriting the plot. I actually shared an early rewrite here on this blog when I naively thought i was finished. hahaha. No. I have kept thinking I’m done and then needing to change things. The more research I did - into the quest for the Holy Grail, many ideas from Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes, interviewing a real life tea maker, taking high tea in a fancy hotel foyer, reading ancient Chinese tea poetry, much reading up about the correct ways to make tea, and so much reading up about what happens for women to leave violent relationships that ads for divorce lawyers started popping up on my facebook stream (thanks for caring facebook) - the more material there was to fill the plot but then ofcourse there was far too much material. ha. Plus I needed to learn how to structure plots so I’ve read up books by novelists and film makers on how to tell stories.

I’ve put the whole story below if you would like to read it. But first let me offer a tantalizing glimpse… Here is the wonderful wonderful Hew Wagner having a read through a sketch of Picander’s coffee poem.

Coffee keeps the beat strong
And the dreamers awake
A rich flavor to live by
Drink and listen as the earth taste fills you
You will hear, here it comes
the music, the music.
Earth beneath my feet
And the music stretches me
Into the blue lost sky
For a moment I can hear the sky song
Filling my day ends
So we meet coffee again friends
Share some time with us
Coffee and music will melt the ice
And you will hear the song once again.

Yesterday I started walking around the house talking aloud about the plot and what it meant, so i grabbed the phone and made a number of long videos. Mostly just me raving lol but this one was succinct enough to be shareable.

 

And now to the plot!!! Next up I will start on the libretto which requires getting the different characters’ ways with words very clear in my head, which I’m really looking forward to. Enjoy!

ACT I

Set in Earl’s lavish but pompous Tea Rooms

Our story begins with the spoon polishers (the audience) sitting keenly in place, ready for their afternoon's work. The splendid teapot arrives with Suki, and introduces her to the spoon polishers. It is Suki’s first day at Earl’s tea rooms.

Polly enters with a handful of flowers. Teapot squeels and embraces her.

"Oh Teapot.  well...Sorry. I didn't mean... It's great to see you...um... I was in the garden. I love flowers and the peppermint smelt so lovely. I’m trying it today. Here smell.”

“Peppermint eh? In tea?”

“Maybe it’s what I need - maybe it’ll bring some high notes. I don’t know...just a fancy...... Oh!...I got peppermint on my glove.” Polly hands teapot the flowers and rubs at her glove to clean it. Teapot hands the flowers to Suki.

Watching her, Teapot reflects, "you know you don't have to wear them.”

"Don't start, Teapot! Oh and how do you do?" Polly notices Suki.

Teapot introduces the women. ‘So exciting. Look, it’s Suki - she’s starting today. Suki meet Polly, the teamaker. She makes the tea - in me.” Teapot bows and dances off.

“Welcome Suki. Lovely to meet you. Here let me help you get ready.”

Polly finds Suki an apron and cap and so on. Suki asks Polly how long she’s been teamaker.

“I took over from my Grandmother, She used to make beautiful tea and everyone loved it. When she died, twenty years ago I hadn’t completed my tea studies, but Earl let me stay as a probationary teamaker. I still can’t make tea like Grammy - La Destina tea.”

“La Destina?”

Polly pauses and smiles. “It’s the magic flavour of a perfect cup of tea - when you drink it’s like time stops and your senses are filled by the flavour.”

“But can’t you make it?”asks Suki.

Polly shakes her head sadly. “I keep trying. If only Grammy...but like Earl said, I’m lucky he was there. I was so young, like you now!...and you're ready. What do you think.” Polly holds up a mirror for Suki.

“Awesome. A new look for me. Fun.”

“Earl is very particular, so do it exactly this way every day. Come and meet Dishie. You'll like him." Polly walks off and Suki takes a moment in front of the mirror,

“I might just pull some hair out here…a little errant strand.” before following.

As the women approach, the dishwasher dries his hands and warmly shakes hands with Suki. Dishie offers Suki a vase for the flowers she is still carrying.

Polly asks, “how's that poem looking? Did you work on it?"

"Yeah. There's more to come. Gotta wait for the mist to drift in from the river. Poetry needs time - hey like tea. It’s gotta steep you know?"

The dishwasher introduces Suki to a teapot in the kitchen - Old Bones - who sits in the corner, dressed in a large filthy coat, muttering to herself. Suki shakes hands with the old teapot, who grabs hold of Suki’s arm and doesn’t let go.
“Cold skin. She’s got cold skin.” says Old Bones.

Polly calls out. “Help Dishie. You’re the only one who can manage her!”

The Dishwasher gently un-prises Bones’ hand and gives her a pat.

“My head is all steamed up.” complains Old Bones.

“The swan waits for the evening star’s invitation, and then takes to the sky in greeting. Right," Dishwasher throws a tea towel at  Suki. "You look like you could dry dishes better than the afternoon sunshine.” They head to the sink.

Earl’s arrival is heralded with an orchestral antagonist theme, dark, opulent and terrifying. Ear; is impeccably groomed with a straight back and a slight limp. ‘Ah Suki I see you’ve arrived. And are dressed appropriately. You’ll need to fix your hair though. You will find i run every aspect of this place with absolute precision and high standards. Someone has to maintain high standards here don’t they Polly? What would these tearooms be without me hmm? I simply cannot abide a lack of discipline.'“

Polly stands to attention as Earl slowly circles her, appraising her outfit.

“And the gloves?”

Polly obliges and holds out her hands as Earl inspects them.

"Other side." Polly turns her palms over.

"mmm." Earl gives the slightest nod. “Today’s tea plan?”

Polly explains she was thinking of using Peppermint.

“Peppermint? Mmmm. Is that wise?”

“Ah… well…you see…I...I...”
“Oh so you’re not sure at all. Why aren’t I surprised?”

“Well… the...the high notes?”

“High notes? Are we at an opera and I didn’t notice? Nothing you’ve done before has worked. You really are a total disappointment. At least Grammy was spared from witnessing your dismal failures. At this stage, I very much doubt peppermint will make any difference.” Old Bones creeps over, squawking like a crow.

Earl tells the “filthy old bag of bones” to shut up. To Polly he says, “I don’t know why you keep Grammy’s disgusting old pot. Throw the mad old witch out on the street and stop her stinking up my kitchen.”

“I’m really sorry. But Grammy left her to me...” At this Bones hisses and spits like an old cat.

Earl snorts and reminds Polly that without him she would be at the mercy of these fools. His gesture includes the occupants of the kitchen.

He sighs then shouts ”Teapot? In the kitchen. At once.” Teapot runs in. “Do try to behave yourself today.” The teapot giggles and Earl turns and leaves.

Teapot wiggles onto his chair and Polly begins to make tea.
“Well, let’s see...  ⅓ a scoop...I’ll use two of those...and...oh wait...” Polly talks to herself as she selects and blends the tea. “Well I think that looks OK. but how does it feel teapot?” She offers it to teapot who rubs it through his fingers thoughtfully. “Oh I like the peppermint.”

Polly scoops the tea into the teapot. Then she spins him around 3 times, (never a pleasant experience for the teapot) and helps him into his splendid steeping jacket and lid.

“Service!” Earl’s voice rings out.

"Oh. This is Suki’s first day. I’d better go and help her. Will you be OK if I leave you alone today?" Polly pats the teapot on his splendid tummy, who giggles contentedly. "Thank you Polly. I feel pretty warm now. Yes we all run after Earl!"

"So you will just sit here, and stay calm? Dishie will keep an eye on you."

Earl’s voice again. “Am I having to ask twice?” Polly and Suki rush to the front of house together.

But what's this? A stranger arrives in the kitchen with particularly lovely hair that swooshes so. He says he is Suki's friend - Picander - and he's dropped in to invite her to the coffee house - to the poetry night he hosts. He puts a flyer on the table, smiles and swooshes his hair. Of course everyone's welcome Picander announces.

The Dishwasher explains she is serving.

“It’s too hot to go anywhere.” grumbles Old Bones.

The Splendid Teapot wonders if, considering how lovely he looks, he might be good at poetry. Particularly since he's steeping which always makes him a little hot and steamy. “Why, yes you are,” notices Picander. “Maybe you can help me?  I want to finish my new poem for tonight.”

Old Bones seems to drift to sleep as Picander and the splendid teapot begin work on Picander’s poem. It starts badly, Picander’s poetry is awful and the teapot’s suggestions are worse.

As this dismal poetry writing attempt progresses, the teapot looks to the dishwasher, with a delighted confession. "Well I can't write poetry after all. My prettiness really is only skin deep." He giggles contentedly and the dishwasher agrees. He dries his hands, walks over to the teapot and whispers vastly superior text in his ear. “ Ooh. thank you! that’s so much better!” says the Splendid Teapot and repeats the lines to Picander, clearly enjoying the delighted response of the handsome man. The teapot relays the lines with increasing flourish and theatricality.

In this way, they finish the poem and it is lovely. Oh joy! The Dishwasher slaps the splendid teapot on the back and returns to his dishes happily.

Picander stares at the poem. Perhaps he sheds a tear.

“I’ve never written anything so, so..This is the most perfect and beautiful and and, the words...when I read...it’s like time stops and my feelings are all.. And...it’s...it’s…what’s the word?”

‘Well when that happens with teamaking, it’s called La Destina.’

“La Destina. This is my La Destina poem, and you Splendid Teapot inspired me.”

If the Splendid Teapots blushes at this, it only makes him prettier. “Hey - I’ve got an idea. I want you to come with me, to the poetry night. Reading this poem tonight is going to be momentous. I mean there’s another teapot here. Surely Earl can manage.”

Oh dear. The Splendid Teapot is quite alarmed by this proposal. He tells the dishwasher he can’t possibly leave Earl, can he? - what should he do? And he's steeping - and can't think straight. He's likely to do something rash. But, but Earl. The dishwasher responds that the teapot should go with the flow. He points out that Earl takes the teapot for granted and it might do Earl good to learn how much the teapot means to him. “Earl does take me for granted. And it is annoying. But I’m just a teapot. I can’t walk out, can I?”

“Why not? You do lots of surprising things for a teapot,” responds Dishie.

“Oh I do too.”

Picander interrupts. "Look. I want you to come with me. This is the best poem I've ever written and tonight is going to be amazing." Swoosh swoosh.

The teapot succumbs. He allows himself to be taken by Picander as long as Picander promises to be very careful with the teapot’s beautiful flowers. Picander leaves, muse in hand. Old Bones mumbles.

The Dishwasher returns to his dishes. He announces to the spoon polishers that their work is done, it is time they left and made space for the teadrinkers.

(spoon polishers put their polishing cloths into their laps as serviettes and make costume adjustments to become tea drinkers. When the costume change is complete, the tea drinkers assume a rather haughty upper class air)

Our attention now turns to the front of house where Polly and Suki assist Earl, Grand Tea Regent in Perpetuity, in welcoming the teadrinkers. Earl is in his element - suave, charming, gliding through the tables, a handshake here, a friendly touch on the shoulder there. Such largesse. Such panache. The tea drinkers respond with a song of thirsty anticipation. The song climaxes with Earl sending Polly to the kitchen to fetch the teapot and serve the tea.

Alas and Alack.

Polly returns empty handed. The colour drained from her face.

The Teapot is gone!

Earl runs as fast as his limp allows to the kitchen vainly looking for the teapot.

He turns on Polly. Why does she ruin everything she touches? What would Grammy think of how she’s turned out? At this, Old Bones starts laughing at Earl which incenses him further. He explodes in anger

“Well I can’t run a teahouse without my teapot. Polly I hold you personally responsible. The teapot is your job. And to make matters worse you let him go while he’s steeping. You know how he gets when he’s steeping.”

"I did. I left him on his own. If I stayed with him this wouldn’t have happened. Oh no. Let me try to find...I'll leave right now...I’ll go and look for him..." Polly pleads.

“Find him. Polly. Find him or the teahouse is ruined. For both of us. I don’t want to lay my eyes on your pathetic face until you have the teapot with you.” Earl turns and marches off to his office.

The Dishwasher reassures her. “Don’t worry Pol. He can’t banish you from your own tearooms.”

“What?” says Suki.

“These rooms aren’t Earl’s - they are owned by Polly. Passed down from Grammy. When Grammy died Earl and Polly made a deal. Earl would remain Grand Tea Regent in Perpetuity until Polly learnt how to make La Destina. And then Earl would step down, and Polly could take her rightful place.”

“And I’ve never made La Destina tea so Earl has stayed,” sobs Polly. “What am I going to do? I don't even know where to start looking for Teapot.”

The dishwasher picks up the poetry night flyer. “The teapot's here. At the coffee house. Picander took him, seems to think the teapot can help him write poetry.”

"But..I don't know how to get there. I don't know anything about coffee. Or poetry. I'm going to have to leave forever. I'm just going to walk away and..." Polly looks around desperately, unable to complete her sentence.

"I can take you. I know the way. Coffee is delicious! and poetry night is actually fun! Come on Polly." says Suki.

Polly stares at her gloves. Her hands are shaking. "Thank you Suki. Let’s go."

The women leave.

The dishwasher finds his bongos under the sink . He tells the audience that since there was no afternoon tea, there are no dishes to wash so he might head to the coffee house. He invites the audience to join him, instructing them to be groovy and don their sunglasses and berets.

ACT II

As Polly, Suki and Dishie arrive at the coffee house the coffee drinkers share a lusty chorus about the delights of coffee.

Teapot sees Polly and runs up to greet the women. Picander, as splendid as ever strides over to welcome them.

But Polly just wants to take the Teapot and return to the tearooms.

“No man. I and Teapot have a very special poem to perform tonight. He needs to be here for that. And You’ll want to stay for that.”

Polly argues but Picander waves her off.

“You have a poem tonight Teapot?”

“Well, it’s really Dishie’s poem but it is very nice. Picander has such wooshy hair. Oh! Look at me a teapot in a coffee house, and I’m still steeping.”

“Alright. Alright. I will wait til you do this poem Teapot. At least I know where you are and I can keep an eye on you.”

Suki turns to Dishie. “Do you mind that Picander thinks your poem is his?’

Dishie shrugs amicably. “When steam rises water boils.”

Picander takes to the floor to begin officially welcoming all to the evening. He seems ready to settle in for a rather verbose and rambling speech about how special tonight is going to be, when The Dishwasher, walks up and takes the floor.

“You, friend, have been heard.” and with that Picander is dismissed.

‘Cool cool. I guess Dishwasher is ready to go now, so um here he is.”

Dishwasher unfolds some scrappy paper from his back jeans pocket, hands his bongos to Suki with instructions for her to do what she feels, and begins his poem, a rather steamy work on how good cream feels in a hot cup of coffee. He finishes, folds up his paper and tells Suki she “rocked the skins”.

Picander thanks him and calls for the next poet.

Suki turns to Polly. “There’s something about Dishwasher. I felt it the moment I saw him. He’s just got this way… How can I tell him? he’s so…ooh.”

“It’s poetry night. Why don’t you tell him in poetry?”

“A poem! Could i do it Polly? Do I dare? I don’t know. Ooh. should I? I mean look at him...mmh. I’m doing it! Polly wish me luck!”

Polly laughs. “Suki, you won’t need luck.” Suki takes to the stage to perform a poem.

A rather steamy song about how there was a cup of coffee who delighted in the feeling of cream sliding into her. AS she finishes Dishie applauds and tells her

“The moon’s song wasn’t fear but longing for the meteor to scar his ancient skin,” Suki leads him behind a furniture where the two disappear.

“Well that worked” Polly laughs.

Teapot turned to Polly. “ I’ve been steeping for hours and my head is getting woozy.”
Polly addresses Picander. “My friends are busy. I could just take the teapot now, if you’d let Suki know...”

"Teapot has to stay. We’re about to do my poem. It’s incredible.”

"But I need to get back."

"Polly - face it. You have been kicked out. You're free. You might as well take your time. Relax. Here, try some coffee. It's good."

"But Earl..."

"Earl what? he’s not here. Just have one sip. Go on. Just one little sip. Try it..”

"alright. hand it over. One sip. And then…” Polly takes a perfunctory sip and is hit with a rush. "ooh.

wow. that is good. So different ... so earthy. ooh...it makes my heart beat faster. But I feel so loose at the same time. My skin is all tingly.”

"oh yeah. Coffee'll do that. That’s what my poem is about. How coffee makes me feel."

"ooh," Polly takes another sip. "Well I would very much like to hear it."

“Right. Here I go.’ Instead of walking to the floor, Picander suddenly sits. “I feel sick. This poem - it’s so...potent, so...magical. What if the world isn’t ready for it? And I am the humble vessel for this poem. Teapot told me about La Destina. This is my la destina Polly.”

“Maybe you need some of this?” Polly offers Picander her coffee cup who downs it in one shot, gives himself a shake, squares his shoulders and takes the floor to introduce his extraordinary poem.

Picander’s poem is very well received, especially by Polly who has become quite coffee affected and dreamy. “Amazing work, Picander. You delivered it well, congratulations”

Even Dishwasher and Suki pop their heads up briefly to admire the poem.

“And I must thank teapot, my muse.” Picander gestures Teapot to join him

Teapot joins Picander and they bow.

Polly stands up and takes Teapot’s hand. “That WAS a beautiful poem and now teapot and I can leave and get back to the tearooms.’
“Absolutely not. Teapot, my wonderful muse must stay. I want another poem. My fans want another poem.”

“Picander that was the deal. One poem. Now LET TEAPOT GO.”
“NO! Hear that sound? That’s my audience chanting for another peom. Teapot STAYS”
“Goes.”

“Stays.”

The argument continues and Polly and Picander pull the teapot back and forth and the poor pot STILL STEEPING and now being fought over shouts at them back.

“STOP IT. STOP PULLING ME. Just Stop.” He pulls his hands/spout etc free and smoothes himself down. “Actually i’ll have my turn at a poem now, thank you Picander.

A teapot’s whole life is ordered about

‘Go here. Go there. Now show us your spout.

Spin around thrice, now give us your tea.’

But what about ME? What about ME?

I know a teapot should do as they’re told.

Be steamy, be well drawn, be hot but don’t scald.

For twenty long years I’ve served out my time

What I have left I want to be MINE.

If I was a free pot, I could pour when I chose

And not have to wear these hot, itchy clothes

I’d go where I wanted, with whomever I liked

When I’d speak they’d listen, without a huge fight.

I’m sorry Picander, but find your own rhyme.

And Polly my old friend, I know you’ll be fine

You don’t need this teapot to make your true tea

But I need me now. I need to be free.

Polly I’m not going back to the tearooms with you. I’ve decided to emancipate myself - I’m a free pot now.”
“Teapot. I need you. Earl has banished me. Please.”

“The tearooms will be fine . And so what if Earl is angry? It’s time I put my foot down. (stomps) Oh my, I need to pour so bad. I’m going to...I’m going…”
Teapot runs off stage, and we hear a long shout/sigh of relief as Teapot pours. From the garden he shouts out, `Polly the peppermint comes out real nice.”

-----

A disheveled Dishwasher and Suki emerge. Dishwasher admires Teapot’s poem.

“Awesome poem. And the actions. So real! When teapot pours, he REALLY pours,” says Suki.

Dishwasher agrees, “I lived in a teapot for a while and eventually you do need to break free. Cool.”

Polly is in a frenzy. “I’ve got to find him.”

Dishwasher shakes his head. “Pol, let him go. He’s free now! Do you really want to take him back to the tearooms against his will?”

“No. Of course not. But, but...I can’t go back empty handed. I can’t...I can’t...”

‘Well you could do a poem,” suggests Picander helpfully.

“No, I’m not doing a poem. I’m not a poet, I’m a teamaker. Well I was. now I’m just banished. Now I’ll never make La Destina! Oh Grammy. Grammy tried to teach me the old way. How the blend looks in the mixing bowl, the smell, the colour of the tea, then the taste. Different days need different blends. It’s a feeling. It’s your senses. Waiting for each flavour to emerge from the blend. Grammy used to say Tea is a balm a salve. Tea marks the changing seasons inside each day. It’s magic. It’s music. She taught me to love tea. And I try. I’ve spent 20 years trying but I can’t make la destina I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I’m a failure  Earl is right. And now i never will.”

“Wow. teamaking is your poetry.” muses Picander.

“What did teapot mean - you will be fine without him?” says Suki.

“I don’t know. I won’t be fine without a teapot!. How can he…There’s no other teapot...unless he means... but he couldn’t!...After Grammy died, Earl bought her that big cosy. I made my first tea in Old Bones. it came out awful, so bitter. No one could drink it.”

“Keep going. Keep pouring it out” Dishie shouts out.

“Why was the tea so bitter?” asked Suki.

“I wanted to ask her, what was I doing wrong? She was so different after Grammy died, and Earl said talking to her would only make her worse. We put her in the kitchen and brought in the splendid teapot...and...But he’s right isn’t he? She’s completely mad? I mean she...she says…Earl has...The way she’s always...so...hot?”

“I know I’ve only just started at the tearooms, but wouldn’t she be cooler without that big coat?” asks Suki.
“But Earl said -”

Polly closes her eyes and stands very still.

“Grammy never used a tea cosy. And Old Bones never complained of being hot then.” And after another long moment...

“Let’s go. I’ve been chasing the wrong teapot.”

Everyone leaves, except Dishwasher. He addresses the coffee drinkers. “Well it seems we are all heading back to the TEAROOMS. Where the TEADRINKERS have been waiting all this time. The TEADRINKERS. You know the ones with the fancy hats.” (on this cue the coffee drinkers change costume to their tea drink attire.)

ACT III

Back in the tearooms

In the kitchen, we find Old Bones sleeping.

The dishwasher gently wakes her and tells Suki to find a bucket and sponge from under his sink.

“It’s so hot in here. Hard to stay awake.”

“Wake up please. We want to help you.” says Suki.

“Help her Dishy. Take her coat off.” whispers Polly.

“What? You want to take off my coat? Well. Well. It’s taken you long enough. I’ve been waiting twenty years to feel cool.”

“Please stand still.”

It takes Suki and The Dishwasher some moments to undo the heavy coat and slowly lift it off Old Bones. Polly holds her hands to her face, nervously covering her mouth.

As the coat comes off her, Old Bones lets out a long rumbling phlegmatic noise and coughs.

Dishie provides her with a cloth to use as a hankie. It takes some moments before she becomes still and silent. Without the weight of the coat she straightens up to her full height.

“Now I can think clearly. What does this mean? What do you want? Why are you standing there gawking at me?”

The dishwasher begins to polish the old teapot.

Polly addresses her. "Why was the tea I made in you bitter? What did I do wrong? It’s fine when I make it in Earl’s teapot."

Old Bones snorts. “Your tea isn’t fine in Earl’s teapot. It is flavourless drivel. And it is just the pretty flowers on the teapot and Earl’s blustery carry-on that the teadrinkers like.”

“So I can’t even make good tea in Earl’s teapot?” Polly asks Old Bones.

“Of course you can’t. It will always be weak and flavourless.”

The Dishwasher finishes cleaning Old Bones, and brushes her hair. The lid he puts on her head is like a crown. She is quite a different figure now - fierce and powerful.

She addresses Polly. “I will tell you what you did wrong. Your Grandmother came from a long, long line of Pollys. I am an ancient and proud teapot, Bone China. And I have been passed down this line, from Polly to Polly. When a Polly makes tea here, in Polly’s tea rooms my flavour is at it should be - La Destina.”  Bone China points a gnarled finger at Polly. “ But YOU have never once made tea in Polly’s tea rooms. YOU gave the tearooms away before you ever touched me. YOU made that dreadful deal with Earl. You let him put me in that tea cosy. Me. Bone China. in a teacosy like a garden variety metal teapot. If you use a teacosy for a teapot like me, the tea will always oversteep and be bitter. I would have told you if you’d asked. But you stopped talking to me.”

"an ancient line? And the tea was bitter because of the cosy...so... can you still make La Destina tea?” Asks Polly very timidly.

“Do you doubt me?” Bone China roars at Polly.

Poor Polly is overcome. She asks Bone China what she needs to do to become a La Destina teamaker.

“If you want to make La Destina tea, you must take off those gloves. Polly! A teamaker’s knowledge is in her hands. You can’t feel the blend through that terrible fabric.”

“I’ve worn gloves for twenty years.”

“Did Grammy wear gloves?”

Polly slowly, nervously unbuttons and peels off her gloves. I'm sure you'll agree - such a moment requires a song. Perhaps the buttons roll this way and that and this time, no-one chases after them.

The Dishwasher takes them from her and throws them in the dishwater.

“Begin.” instructs Old Bones. “Select the botanicals.” Bones pushes the vase of flowers towards Polly.

Shaking, Polly starts selecting different flowers. Examining them, smelling them. Holding different flowers up to the light to see the blend. She places her selection in the tea blending bowl and turns the mixture through her hands. It is a slow process, with reflection and adjustments. Finally Polly is ready.

Dishwasher lifts Bones’ lid, and Polly puts the tea in. Bone China seems to grow in size and stands commandingly to steep.

With dishwasher’s guidance, the teadrinkers replace the signage on their table from Earl’s to Polly’s, while Suki, Polly and Picander pull down the oppressive Earl branding and replace with bright flowers.

At that moment Earl storms in. “I thought I heard you come in Polly. You’ve found my teapot? No? What the hell are you doing here? Well well!! A little deluded game of play making amongst the fools, now it is time to get back to reality. Polly put the cosy back on Old Bones and put your gloves on immediately.” Dishy places the lid on Bones. “THE TEADRINKERS ARE HERE. MY CUSTOMERS ARE SEEING THIS. This is absolutely reprehensible.”

Suki and Dishie ignore him and hand tea cups out.

“Polly you know what happens if you use Old Bones for tea. Why are you being such an imbecile?”

Polly looks to Bone China for guidance. "Polly you know what to do." Polly slowly, nervously, but with determination pours a cup of her tea, approaches Earl and hands it to him.

“Drink this. What do you taste?” she asks, almost inaudibly.

“What’s that? Speak up. You want me to drink this filthy bog water? Have you completely lost your mind?”

“Just one sip Earl. Try the peppermint.”

“Don’t be ri-” Earl catches a sniff of the tea and is stunned. He sniffs again in horror. Slowly he lifts the cup, He drinks...and falls back into a chair. The colour drains from his face as he whispers “la Destina”.

Curious, everyone else drinks. LA DESTINA LA DESTINA they shout joyously and surround Polly.

Polly begins nervously, “And now that I have made La Destina,” she swallows but goes on, “our deal is complete. I can take my place here. I no longer require you as Grand Tea Regent in Perpetuity and,” has Polly actually begun to smile? “Earl, you are free to go.”

Earl visibly crumples. “What can I do now? I have lost my teapot. I have lost my tearooms. All the years I poured into this place. All my work to make my place in the world. To keep everything JUST SO. Fo what? I gave everything I had. I took so much care over every little detail and it has all crumbled. Dust in my hands."

At this moment the teapot arrives in fabulous travelling clothes, with a suitcase and a large folded umbrella. Earl looks at teapot. “Are you leaving? I don’t deserve you, old friend. You are too beautiful for me, you should be free to make your way - not trapped with a man who has nothing. Go Go lovely teapot. Leave me.”

“What? Why? I know my flavour was never La Destina. That’s not why your teadrinkers came to these tearooms. They came for you Earl. Your charm. Your intoxicating charisma. Look at us. I am beautiful, you are suave and that has been enough to keep the tearooms going successfully for 20 years.  What couldn’t we do together Come with me. I’ve got such great such plans for our adventures.”

“You are a very surprising teapot!”

“I know.” Giggles the teapot.  “So how about it? One man and one free pot.”

The Teapot puts out his hand and with uncharacteristic sheepishness Earl takes it. The teapot hands him the umbrella. "This is for you - you can use it as a walking stick and it might come in handy when i get leaky." Off they walk arm in arm.

The Dishwasher approaches Polly and Suki. He has his apron over his arm and announces he is leaving - that his work is done.

"I have a gift for you both. For you Suki, afternoon sunshine, a notebook to write down your beautiful poems." Suki takes the gift and hugs him.

"For you, Pol." The dishwasher hands Polly his now completed poem, framed. Polly reads the beautiful text tearfully. I needn't recount the lengthy work here word for word, suffice to say it features Polly, Suki and the movements of a kettle on and off. Polly says she doesn’t know what she will do without him. The dishwasher responds that she will be fine and that he has found the perfect replacement. He tenderly puts his apron on Suki. Polly embraces her friend and hangs the poem on the wall.

Our attention turns to the kitchen where we find Picander. His beautiful hair has been put back into an industrious pony tail and he is writing his new poem under the brutal but brilliant editorialship of Old Bones. “Your poetry is dreadful. DREADFUL. It is all “I want”. good poetry is written in “I am”.  Is she the sort of editor who would box a young poet around the ears for poor meter?

Picander finishes and stands to read the poem to the audience. - wishing everyone good fortune, good poetry and tea of true La Destina quality.

Everyone joins the final chorus - a resounding chorale of the Dishwasher's Polly poem.

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