Strawberry Tea – collective self standardisation of hopes and desires
I recently visited Ramsgate again, which is just down the road from canterbury. By the sea and with a lovely stretch of sandy beach, i find myself discovering the variety embedded under the surface of an english seaside town peeling and a bit ramshackle. Perhaps the last thing one would imagine finding in such a place is a tomb of perhaps one of the most prestigious english jewish gentlemen of the 19th century. I attended a ceremonial service in the adjacent synagogue built under the auspices of the tombs inhabitant when he was alive. Following the ceremonial rather than meaningful service, attendees (not just jewish) were invited to strawberry tea at a nearby venue, where many more people were also in attendance. I got to see a good number of mayors and councillors, recognizable from their bling (large golden coloured chains of office), witness a elderly man holler raffle numbers across a room in a less than dignified manner, and appreciate that strawberry tea means strawberrys and tea (not tea that is in someway strawberry derived). The whole event was a blending of an elderly middle class english fetishizing of the upper classes of british colonial times, in the form of commemorating a figure that from that time and class. Alongside this was the factor of this figure bring an emminent jewish individual of the time. In essence what anthropologically fascinated me was people interpreting the combination of two categories (jewish and english) that they had inherited somehow. Taken out of their original categorical context and breadth of meaning, they now acted as static buckets to hold todays inheritors’ (of these categories) hopes and desires for satisfaction. Hopes and desires mostly articulated through a self-stylization of ones identity as seen in the outwardly turned person. Where this self stylization is directed by cultural biases in age and in political, economic, and religious understanding. What people hopes and desires were i do not know. But i would say that the event was a collective self reinforcement activity in ensuring little creative activity or meaning building the rest of the time these categories are invoked. A collective self standardisation.