In Yorkshire everyone drinks Yorkshire Tea. They won’t drink any other kind of tea, and if you somehow trick them into trying another kind of tea, they will – the moment they realize they’ve been duped – spit it out and/or make themselves physically sick. If questioned, they will tell you that Yorkshire Tea is the best tea, the only tea, and that it beats all other teas which are revolting and downright stupid in comparison.
In Lancashire there exists a similar phenomenon, only the revered brew there is called Lancashire Tea. The fact that both brands are owned by the same conglomerate, and are in fact identical but for the name, is of little significance to the proud tea fanatic. Nor does it seem to matter that all the tea comes from India and is processed and manufactured in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, prior to transportation to the respective regions.
As it stands, there is a palpable, uneasy tension between the two factions, and no one is quite sure what will become of it. Will it one day spill over into violence and bloodshed? The experts say it is inevitable.
In fact, reports of tea-related clashes have been rising steadily since the smoking ban was introduced in 2007. The knock-on effects of the ban are manifold, as have been well documented in the sociological studies published by Gilbert & Ronson last year. Suffice it to say here that people are consequently drinking less beer and more tea. This may sound like a good thing initially, but don’t be so sure.
At a recent football match between Preston and Hull, fighting broke out in the terraces after caffeinated fans were seen goading each other with teabags. It was reported that the visiting Hull fans had produced a box of Lancashire Tea, and had taunted the home fans by setting fire to the teabags inside. The Preston fans had responded to this act of blasphemy by throwing whatever liquids were at hand at the teabag fires, in a bid to put them out. A small child was inadvertently drenched in hot Bovril, and mayhem ensued.
And in Burnley a church was raised to the ground last month after a box of the wrong kind of tea was offered as a tombola prize at a crowded bake sale. All three of the emergency services had to be called out before order was restored.
Folk who live in the Pennines that separate Lancashire from Yorkshire are caught in the crossfire. Unsure of which tea to drink, many have become double agents. They stock both brands and switch between them, depending on who comes calling. They hide their tea in a secret annex.
Recent plans by the responsible conglomerate to manufacture branded tea for every county in Britain has been met with widespread outrage. Legally, however, there is very little anyone can do to stop them.
Hence the government’s announcement of a top secret contingency plan to deal with the outbreak of a potential civil war. It has nothing to do with class, as various tabloids have speculated, and it has nothing to do with Muslims, as The Daily Mail conjectured. It is all about tea.
Watch this space for updates…