My teapot is real, just like the old rocking horse in The Velveteen Rabbit. The platinum design on the handle is loved away in patches, leaving palm-shaped prints where I have held on to pour. It should have a name — maybe Clyde, or Anna? After all, we’ve breakfasted together every morning for the last five years. Without my teapot, I cannot awaken properly. Coffee is too harsh for mornings.
The teapot was my gift to myself on my arrival in England. Before settling down to spend a semester at Oxford, I had a three-day holiday in Worcestershire. We stopped at the Royal Worcestershire Porcelain Works for a tour of the factory. As our tour guide started talking about how strong porcelain was, she took a tiny, fragile-looking translucent teacup and starting whacking it on the desk. Then she stood on it. It still didn’t break. I was entranced.
Rows and aisles of half-finished dinnerware and figurines later, the tour dumped us out into the gift shop, where the first-run china was displayed in glittering splendor in glass cases. Ah, there was a nice one: beautiful cream-colored bone china with a deep green floral design. But the £216 price tag (about $350 at that time} was well out of my reach.
I moved on the “factory-seconds” outlet, hoping to find something in my price range there. Still no luck.
There was just one more chance: the “factory second seconds” store was just across the way. Here all the rejected china was thrown together in mishmash piles, stacked on cheap plastic shelving in an unheated barn.
A white pot with bands of royal blue caught my eye, and I casually flipped it over to check the price – not realizing the lid was not attached. I squeezed my eyes shut as it clattered on the concrete floor and other shoppers turned to stare. I glanced down and saw the lid spinning and wobbling like a top, balanced on the pointy finial. Spinning, and unbroken. And £14 later, it was mine.