Sean Connery’s recent passing had me thinking about a couple moments in his film career where tea was front and center, complimenting the sophisticated devil-may-care confidence that was ubiquitous with his name. “A Bridge Too Far” was a star-studded 1977 war epic about the ill-fated Operation Market Garden, a paradrop into the Netherlands during the Second World War to seize key bridges into Germany. The name of the film (and of course the book it was adapted from) has been adopted into military jargon as a way to describe an impossible task. Connery played Major General Roy Urquhart, a real historical figure, who commanded the British Airborne division into the battle. After a slew of tribulations pile up on the General’s plate, his aide, Corporal Hancock, approaches him in the midst of the chaos with a cup of tea. The young corporal offers him the cup, aware of what must be going through Urquhart’s head.
Connery’s character tells the corporal in a stern, deliberate and matter-of-fact tone that shows no panic, but deep contemplation. “Hancock. I’ve got lunatics laughing at me from the woods. My original plan has been scuppered now that the jeeps haven’t arrived. My communications are completely broken down. Do you really believe any of that can be helped by a cup of tea?”
Hancock is only slightly dejected, but offers “It couldn’t hurt, Sir” The General looks at him for a second. He knows he’s right and takes the tea. While the tea didn’t change the course of the day, it offered him a brief respite from the grim circumstances, if only for a moment, to face danger with a clearer mind. Next time you feel overwhelmed with things and consider slowing down for a moment with a cup of tea, remember that Sean Connery would probably agree that it “couldn’t hurt”.