Monday, 17 May 2010


I saw this mug in a charity shop.

It was plonked carelessly in among all the usual sorts of bric-a-brac you find in these places: ornamental dogs and cats trying to out-do one another in whimsicality and general look-at-me cuteness, willow-pattern plates (it’s ALWAYS willow-pattern!), lonely wine glasses (which should clearly be part of a set but there’s always only the one - deep, no doubt, in the throes of survivor guilt), endless salt and pepper sets, empty picture frames, and mysterious little ceramic boxes whose purpose I have never managed to fathom.

But there was something about this mug. Its dark colour and its aloof plainness so set it apart from the gaudy, busy, floweriness and general commotion of the other things around it. It was sure of itself, too - centred, as they say, and didn’t feel the need to stoop to the level of those other mere trinkets vying for my attention. It was the ceramic embodiment of less is more. If it had been a person, it would have been a Buddhist monk - serenely detached from the world and all things in it.

“I’m not going to buy you.” I told it, slightly prickled by its smugness, “I have more than enough mugs in my house, thank you very much, and I’m trying to de-clutter. So, although I like you, I don’t need you and I don’t want you.”

The mug just sat there saying nothing (well, it would, wouldn’t it?).

It knew, you see.

The next week, I was in the shop again, (I am an Olympic-level moocher around charity shops). The mug was still there, albeit on a lower shelf. The company down there was no better than that which it had enjoyed the previous week: the dogs and cats were still trying too hard, the solitary wine-glass still mourned its shattered siblings and the little Chinese people were still hanging about on their bamboo bridge, gossiping, no doubt, about the sad state of a world that doesn’t want willow-pattern tableware any more.

“Still here, eh?” I greeted it. “What’s with the relegation? Were you too pricey? Not pretty enough? Chip on your shoulder? (See what I did there?)”

It was unimpressed by my attempts at ceramics-based wit.

It really was rather a nice shade of blue when all was said and done, and so smooth. I hefted it in my hand, just to try. mind you, no commitment.  It fitted as if it had been made specially for me. For a moment, I contemplated our future relationship. The Children in Need mug would have to move over, obviously, but Pudsey’s nice enough - for a bear with just the one eye, he wouldn’t mind, surely? I imagined a shared future of refreshing cups of tea, bitterly delicious coffees and maybe the occasional ice-cold milk (the stark whiteness would look so good against the mug’s dark skin).

It said nothing: it had waited, it could wait a little longer. Softly, softly

“Ok,” I sighed, reaching for my wallet, “You win.”

It didn’t show it, but somehow I know it was pleased.


  1. I'm getting waves of mug envy, you lucky thing

  2. That is one very composed and balanced looking mug. Nice writing too.

  3. Looks like Denby, is it? I cannot resist mugs in charity shops and I'm proud to say I can spot an English mug in the midst of all the inferiors every time!

  4. @Er - Thanks, just the kind of mug you need after a hard day.

    @Poteikat - I'm not sure what it is, there's no maker's mark on it that I can find. I love second-hand things though, you always feel there's a story there maybe.

  5. Ooh - that's a lovely mug! I usually THINK I want a mug, but then I don't really drink very many hot liquids. Sigh.

  6. I does look wonderfully comfortable to hold. Treasure!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Mugs may not say a lot, but they're good listeners, always ready to lend you an ear.

  9. lol.. I love charity shops! luckily, the ronalds sister runs one in a near-by town! Imagine!.. it's first pick of everything that comes in and she stashes stuff she knows we'd like.. mind you, she occasionally gets it wrong.. I recently aquired a fleece, brown and beige waistcoat!?.. anyway, nice find, it is a lovely mug :-)

  10. we have a children in need mug that is 25 years old!
    muhc love

  11. @Bug - I drink far too many hot liquids, I should drink more water then I wouldn't need a mug.

    @NanU - Treasuring!

    @Dominic - Mugs are good companions indeed!

    @Watercats - I just love secondhand stuff, it always seems to have more character somehow. The Ronald's sister is a useful contact by the sounds of it.

    @Martine - 25 years is a very good innings for a mug. I don't think any of mine are anything like that old but I hope this one lasts a long time.

  12. this is a lovely cup for sure, at first i thought it was burgundy and until you said lovely shade of blue, I enlarged and looked carefully and you are right. it is a lovely shade of blue. I know that cup is glad you purchased it. my wed blog was on coffee and mugs and my favorite mug for fun coffee looks much like this one, only thinner and more feminine. loved the story

  13. @Sandra - Hello and thanks for stoppnig by. When I first saw the mug I didn't know if it was blue or dark green (I'm completely colour-blind) but the shade was so pleasing to the eye. I'm off to check our you blog post now.

  14. this used to happen to me in music shops a lot - either an album with an unusual cover would call to me (and for startling covers look no further than Genesis "Nursery Cryme" - or I'd be walking past and an assistant would force a CD into my hand honest guv.

    Nicely written - no doubt the mug will now lurk at you on the shelf until you use it

  15. @DFTP - I get the same thing in book shops, they just leap out at me for some reason. The mug is now in full-time use (the smug git).


Without your comments, I am but a wave without a shore...