The Mug Protocol

A few years ago, I liked my teas and coffees in a posh china cup and saucer. It felt proper. But the the drink was too small, the larger surface area made it cool too quickly – and what is a saucer, but an extra piece of washing up? So, over the years, we have accumulated a fair collection of mugs. Each has a particular niche.

So you are invited to stay at our house for a few days – and don’t worry, the risk is low, we’re not very sociable – there are a few house rules you should be aware of. Some of our guests are super helpful, and we appreciate it, we really do. Some help Debbie with the catering, others help me with the washing up. Some do both.

I’m especially grateful for assistance in providing the coffees and teas that can seem like a continuous process. So I hope family and friends will take these comments in the constructive spirit in which they’re offered. I’m just trying to spare embarrassment all round. In this spirit I offer the following guide.

  • David Hockney Royal Academy – primary coffee mug for Debbie
  • Kings and Queens – first string coffee mug for Rik
  • Winnie-the-Pooh – cheap mug. Alice nicked it from Greenbelt Festival. Possible future toothbrush mug
  • Florence + The Machine – Alice’s, of course. Matt finish. Never used, probably too precious
Put it down. Now.
  • Japanese Spitz – Alice’s coffee mug. Gold-rimmed. Do not use dishwasher
  • Royal Opera House Musicians – in theory for anyone, in practice for Rik’s coffee. Faded, the poor fellow has quite lost his tuba
  • Periodic Table – large mug. You may use this. Ideal for tea if you’re really thirsty. Lettering faded. Incomplete, they keep inventing new elements
  • Pack Leader Cesar Millan – Debbie bought it but Alice uses it. Tea
  • British Prime Ministers – notionally Rachel’s but you may use. Good for a very large tea
  • Ricky Road Run 2009 (red) – chunky, suitable for outdoor use…gardeners, workmen if they should be so lucky
  • Ricky Road Run 2010 (red) – chunky, suitable for outdoor use…gardeners, workmen if they should be so lucky
  • Ricky Road Run 2017 (white) – same as the two above, of course, why should it be any different? Do you think we’re crazy?
  • White Hellebore – big and chunky. You may use this mug. Works for a large tea, if you’re not dainty. Also a good shape for storing half-tins of plum tomatoes or baked beans in the fridge
  • Holly – ditto but vaguely festive
  • Art History – notionally Alice’s but you may use. Good for a very large tea
  • Ladybirds – curved shape, slightly larger. Debbie’s mug, a present from Rachel. Debbie only, tea or coffee
  • Doctor Who Experience – Alice’s mug of choice for tea. Don’t you dare!
  • Tea Society – Alice’s, from her friend Fran. Alice’s tea only
  • Seagull – Debbie’s first choice for tea
Most amusing. But a swine to drink from
  • Half Cup – novelty present from Rik to Debbie for that “half cup” of coffee she wants at breakfast time. Semicircular shape of top makes drinking awkward – safest to drink from the narrow angle. Probably on its way to the charity shop before long
  • I Like Dogs More Than People – Alice’s. Obviously. Don’t touch, grrr!
  • “Rik” – pottery mug acquired in the Lake District c.1989, customised with Rik’s name. Quite small, rather scratchy, Rik very rarely uses it. And you shouldn’t, either
  • Shakespeare’s Plays – a Christmas present for Rachel, from which she can drink her hot chocolate. You may, however, use this if she’s not here
  • Green Tortoise – given to Alice by a bandmate, shortly before they kicked him out. Do what you like.
  • Edward Lear Stripy Bird – top tier coffee mug for Debbie
  • Eden Project Coffee – Debbie bought it, Rik annexed it. Coffee only. Of course.
What many dishwash will do
  • Windsor Castle – very faded, many dishwash. Debbie bought it, Rik annexed it. Bit of a pattern emerging…
  • National Trust Puffin – chunky small mug. Hangs well on hook. This is what Debbie means when she asks for a small coffee
  • Puffins (by Alison Vickery) – Debbie’s coffee mugs first team
  • Van Gogh Museum Wheatfield With Crows – too narrow, now serving as a toothbrush mug after previous officeholder died in action. Looking nervous.
  • Van Gogh Museum Starry Night – too narrow, not used much. Sister mug (above) serving as toothbrush mug. Also looking nervous.
  • Daddilybee Lord of the Fields – Debbie ordered it from her own design and gave it to Rik. Quite narrow, much loved but rarely used
  • Three Peaks of Yorkshire Club – Rik’s, for climbing Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough within twelve hours. Except he didn’t, he took longer over it, but they still let him buy the mug. Gold-rimmed, slightly too large, rarely used and you shouldn’t either
  • York – Rik’s really, but you may. Hangs on the hook, for some reason
  • Women Who Changed the World – a Christmas present for Rachel, from which she can drink her hot chocolate. Just like Shakespeare’s plays. You should listen.
Putting this in the dishwasher is a matter of the utmost gravity
  • Isaac Newton – Debbie’s coffee mugs first team. Do not put this in the dishwasher, you will not be forgiven
  • Catch of the Day – Debbie bought this in Norfolk, but found it fractionally too large. So Rik nicked it, and it’s now his default tea mug, unless he’s really thirsty
  • Edward Lear Runcible Bird – first choice mug for Rik’s coffee

I realise that’s quite a lot for you to remember, so I’ll have this list laminated and bound into a handy brochure, to keep by the kettle. I know you’ll appreciate it. It’s the least I can do to make our guests feel at ease.

10 thoughts on “The Mug Protocol

  1. A few years ago my Mum bought some mugs in a charity shop, including one with a picture of some badgers frolicking round their sett. David and I were both at her house when she unpacked them. I found myself yelling ‘I’m having the badger mug’. Sibling rivalries never fade away, even when you’re over 60.

    Liked by 1 person

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