A mug’s game

Whether they’re bone china, per­son­alised or worn and chipped, ev­ery­one has their own par­tic­u­lar favourite. Alec Marsh asks why mugs mat­ter so much

Country Life Every Week - - In The Garden -

WHEN I last had the priv­i­lege of vis­it­ing Tony Benn, I ex­pe­ri­enced one of the great treats of re­cent Bri­tish po­lit­i­cal his­tory—a mug of Benn tea. Served strong—a teabag for each mug—it was just like his pol­i­tics. ‘House of Com­mons or Scot­tish Par­lia­ment?’ Benn asked, as he raised two mugs aloft for me to choose from. What else would you ex­pect from such an in­de­fati­ga­ble cham­pion of democ­racy and one who reck­oned he had drunk enough tea to float the RMS Queen Mary?

And who bet­ter to help cham­pion the im­per­a­tive fact that mugs mat­ter—of­ten be­cause they’re se­lected in­di­vid­u­ally, typ­i­cally on holiday, on a whim or given as gifts? A ‘favourite’ mug doesn’t just carry vol­umes, it speaks vol­umes, too, about who­ever prizes it. It seems we have be­come a na­tion of mug favourit­ers, crea­tures of habit, who are irked when oth­ers drink from our trea­sured, cho­sen re­cep­ta­cle.

‘When my cof­fin is low­ered into the ground, they can throw my mugs in after me’

For Emma Bridge­wa­ter, Bri­tain’s most high-pro­file mug im­pre­sario, this most hum­ble of ves­sels is an in­te­gral part of our day, when we take stock, ei­ther alone or with friends, over a cup (so to speak) of tea or cof­fee. ‘What you’re do­ing is step­ping out of the mun­dane re­al­ity and hav­ing a lit­tle de­ser­tis­land mo­ment,’ sug­gests Miss Bridge­wa­ter, who set up her pot­tery in 1985.

As a re­sult, the right mug matters— a great deal. ‘Hav­ing a mug that means some­thing to you per­son­ally is ob­vi­ously a part of that feel­ing of “this is my lit­tle

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