Before going to Manchester the only tea I ever drunk was produced from a bag. My parents weren’t big hot drink fans full-stop. So, the ritual of the brew, straight after our evening meal (known itself as ‘tea’) was one which fascinated me. There was no messing about, almost as soon as the cutlery clanked down on the last empty plate, the shout went out ‘Who’s brewin’ up?’ We took it in turns and it became second nature to pop the kettle on and do a quick head-count. Depending on who was around and had time for a cup before going out, there might have been up to eight takers. This required the largest tin teapot. If my memory serves me right, there were three of these, ranging in size and if only a couple of people wanted a brew then you’d go for the smaller one. A full house obviously required a lot of tea shovelled in and in those days everyone took sugar so you didn’t even ask about that. One lad with a particularly sweet tooth liked four. But it was still a delicate art judging the strength, how long to let it brew and getting it into the cup without any stray leaves making an appearance. That’s without even thinking about the further complication of milk. The mugs were all medium-sized seventies style earthenware in a range of browns and beiges. These were the days before promotional or colourfully designed Cath Kidston and the like. It was just pot-luck which one you got because they all looked the same. John really liked his brew more than anyone and I can still see him kicking back in his chair, well satisfied after a plate of chilli and gearing himself up for a night at The Lauriston with his hot beverage by his side and all well with the world. It was one of the proudest moments of my life when towards the end of my time there he told me I made an exceptionally good brew.