The Daily Telegraph

M&S is treating us like mugs by ditching teacups and saucers

- JUDITH WOODS FOLLOW Judith Woods on Twitter @Judithwood­s; READ MORE at

You know how politician­s are forever burying bad news by slyly making huge pronouncem­ents about economic Armageddon or sewage on days when they know full well we’re all distracted by balloons and kittens? Shame on you Marks & Spencer for stooping so low. We have far higher expectatio­ns of you than we do of government – not least because when you take our money we get something we actually want.

So was it really a coincidenc­e that M&S announced that it was ditching teacups and saucers in some of its cafes just at the point we’re bidding a peculiarly conflicted farewell to Boris and witnessing a whole new box of frogs move into No10?

No it was not. Mugs. We’ve been taken for mugs. Now we’re being given them, too. Apparently, cups and saucers require too much washing up, so, “to reduce water and energy use”, St Michael in his wokey wisdom has decreed that they are to be smashed to pieces in an orgy of destructio­n and, yes, desecratio­n.

At least that’s my guess. And I’ve got a sideboard crammed with Royal Albert Old Country Roses that is audibly clinking and clattering with fear, so let me state for the record, here at Woods Towers, the saucery will continue in defiance of those Dark Forces who would sweep away one of the last remaining pillars of British society.

Is nothing sacred? First they came for our old maids bicycling to Holy Communion. If you don’t believe me, ask yourself: when did you last spot one? Now we are no longer to be entrusted – trusted – with two pieces of crockery when we pause to rest and contemplat­e our purchases of husband pants and spare room duvet covers and those Serrano ham and Manchego cheese rolls that are so very convenient for snacking. I’m not sure I’ll bother now – because tea does not constitute a special treat when served in a mug. Fact.

I could reel off any number of reasons: iron, ions, tannins, the effect of porousness on flavour and why the colour of the receptacle alters taste perception. But I shan’t. All we know, all we need to know, is that it feels posher and lovelier to drink tea from a cup and saucer and their disappeara­nce is yet another dismal and dreary erosion of life’s little Pooterish pleasures.

Is it really such a big deal to chuck a few more items into the dishwasher? At the risk of challengin­g the current aerated oil and gas orthodoxy, I can’t see the energy savings on M&S saucers forcing Putin to reopen Nord Stream 1, even with a Dine In for Two thrown in. Are we to be denied every harmless source of quotidian delight in a bid to placate the new eco Puritans? Those self-appointed social media vigilantes have scored yet another victory against common sense and, indeed, common folk for whom a pot of Earl Grey or best builder’s is elevated – celebrated! – by a nice cup and saucer.

This may well sound like the proverbial storm in a teacup but make no mistake: trouble is brewing. Crockery is more sustainabl­e than single-use cardboard. Isn’t that already an environmen­tal win? Punitive asceticism won’t do the cause any favours. I’m not convinced Voltaire was exercised about hot beverages but he had a point when he urged: “Don’t make perfect the enemy of good.”

Truthfully, this isn’t just virtue signalling. This is M&S virtue signalling. And I for one am properly tea’d off.

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