I may not always have made the best choices in life – a look at my annual pension statement will certainly bear that out – but there is a choice I make at least four times a day which is undoubtedly a good one: I drink tea! Lots of it.

This week, an article in The Times listed multiple benefits of consuming regular black tea and promoted it in the face of a reported decline in tea drinking. Apparently last year we drank 870 million fewer cups.

I love a cup of tea. My preferred blend is one I create myself from two PG Tips bags and one Twinings Lady Grey, brewed in a teapot and served with enough milk to make it the colour of wet sand. Anything darker than David Dickinson’s kneecap is a no.

There are countless benefits of tea drinking. Black tea (the  PG Tips sort) can reduce the risk of some diseases, benefit the gut and relieve stress.

I think I already knew all that.

I like it when scientists and nutritionists tell me that tea drinking is good for me. It means I don’t have to feel inadequate when I go out with girlfriends and find I’m the only one not ordering a flat white or a fruit cooler, or a matcha green tea latte.

‘I’ll just have a cup of tea,” I say apologetically.

But there is nothing to apologise for! We would all be healthier, have more money and better teeth if we all just stuck to actual tea. A dark berry mocha frappuccino contains 561 calories! Drink one of those and you’d have to move in with Joe Wicks for a month.

I feel sorry for people who don’t drink tea and who can’t derive comfort from a brew in situations of stress or anxiety.

I can’t wait for the trolley to come round on a flight, for example.

Once I’ve got my tea on the go at 27000 feet my nerves are steadied. Ok, so it could all go horribly wrong, but, if it does and I’m jettisoned into the stratosphere, I will at least go full of flavonoids and tannins with the healthiest gut ever.

When they identify me from bits of my small intestine, they’ll be marvelling at its condition, let me assure you.



The authorities in the Italian region of Liguria have made a far reaching decision. They have banned flip flops.

I too would ban flip flops given half a chance. They are dangerous and unattractive. A bit like (insert name of your most loathed politician here – I can’t because of electoral purdah).

Flip flops are ok in their place. And that place is the beach, for the avoidance of burning feet on hot sand, or the shower/communal changing room to escape verrucas or fungal infections.

Flip flops are not ok anywhere else. They are not ok as workwear and they are not ok at weddings, funerals or christenings even if these are taking place in the height of summer.

And that’s another thing. Flip flops are not ok in the northern hemisphere from October to May.

There’s something about flip flops which shrieks ‘Can’t be arsed!’ about the wearer.

And some feet shriek louder than others in the sponge footwear. Those are the feet with cracked heels, damaged nail plates, scaly patches, misshapen bunions, hairy toes, long toes, stubby toes, frankly any toes, corns, blisters and plantar warts.

When it comes to style, the flip flop is its antithesis.

Your flip flops are appropriate footwear for covering the space between the pool and the bar. They are not however, appropriate when driving a car or riding a moped or for cycling, skateboarding or mountain climbing.

And this is where the Ligurian governor has had to step in.

Every summer they are having to rescue  beflipbeflopped tourists hiking steep, rocky paths in search of picturesque villages.

It’s as though the elevational gradient of these mountains is somehow diminished because the sun is shining and the limoncello is cheap.

From this summer, people too stupid to realise that flip flops aren’t ideal for casual mountaineering will be charged up to 2,500 Euro to be winched off.

And rightly so.

I’m hopeful that next year, the same authority will be handing out free bottles of wine to those of us sporting a pedicure and an elegant sandal.

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1 comment

  1. Sam, the doyen of Italian shoemakers, Salvatore Ferragamo will have something wonderful for your holiday feet . . .

    For my next holiday, albeit in rural Devon, I recently chanced upon a gentleman’s summer blazer being put on display in a Havant charity shop window. On enquiring the size, price and make (40”, £3, Reiss) and a quick try-on the requisite money quickly changed hands. On getting home I found the pockets still sewn up suggesting it had never been worn. I do enjoy a bargain. . .

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