I did plead guilty to one, some time ago, in Secret Vices, but there is more.
I am an addict.
A plural addict - there are quite a few habits I just can't kick, but yesterday one of them rose up to confront me as I was preparing to entertain 30+ people to tea in the garden.
I am a mug-aholic, as those who know me well will testify. We have lots and lots.
If I ever buy a mug, the In-Charge says: 'Oh good, we needed one of those.'
My response at times like that is immediate and brisk. 'Be grateful it isn't shoes,' I always say.
But, like most men, he doesn't get the joy of small, pleasing things.
Mugs, after all, are not boys' toys.
It started long, long ago, so my collection has been building for years.
In fact I can fairly and squarely blame my mother. She gave me a set of four mugs as a present in the distant moons of the past.
That was all it took to get me hooked.
|The RNLI's wonderful Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter mugs|
|The other side of each mug is the same but different|
You can see why. They are totally fab, but sadly the intervening years have taken their toll and they are all now ex-mugs, used for other things. I have tried to find replacements on eBay, but possibly in a somewhat desultory fashion, as my search yielded nothing. But even in their sad state, I still love everything about them.
Looking back, I expect the seed had already been sown, as by then I had acquired two mugs that I still have, although no longer use, as I wouldn't like them to get broken. They are both butterfly mugs, and they sit in the Butler's Pantry, in honoured retirement. (I'm still looking for the Butler, by the way. The whimsical term was wished upon my lovely old pantry by the In-Charge and #1 Son, way back when.)
|My two original butterfly mugs|
These days, I am very picky about my mugs. They are mostly - but not exclusively - bone china, and if I don't love them, they're gone. I know I'm a bit odd, but it never ceases to amaze me that people just open the cupboard, grab, pour and drink without even looking at the mug they're using! It takes me longer to choose my mug than it does to boil the kettle.
But mostly my pickyness is about seasonality.
|Some of the Christmas seclection|
Every now and again, I see someone drinking a cup of tea out of a Christmassy mug - in June.
How can they do such a thing?
Does the drink not congeal in their mouths, the milk not turn sour, the taste sicken?
It leaves me astounded.
|The boy's Christmas mugs from long ago|
|My FAVOURITE Christmas mug, that Henri broke - also irreplaceable on eBay|
WonderBrother has a mug with Garfield on it. Garfield. I ask you.
Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ginger cats - think of Hobbes - but Garfield on a mug isn't even aesthetically pleasing.
Perhaps we are not, after all, blood-relations, my brother and I.
I am sure my mother's present was the beginning of my seasonality. In our house the mugs are changed with a regularity that leaves other household tasks dumb with outrage. We have spring, summer, autumn, Christmas and winter - naturally. And every now and again, a mug just appears for a month and then is gone again.
|Some mugs are only out for a month|
Yesterday, with rather a large party visiting the garden at tea time, the Butler's Pantry was forced to disgorge some receptacles that were not - strictly speaking - due for an airing. Mercifully, push didn't come to shove, as they say. I wasn't forced to use my February crocuses, or - heaven forbid - any autumn designs.
As it was, I was able to rummage out enough to seasonally 'mug' everyone. Any more people and I'd have had to say that, sadly, tea wasn't available.
|More summer mugs - well, a few spring ones too I suppose|
Either that, or I could have called the non-players into use.
There are other mugs on the premises. Ones that are used for Bovril, or soup, ones that I don't mind the In-Charge using. (He is guilty of leaving mugs outdoors, in odd places. I find them, weeks later, filled with rain.) Also, it must be remembered that he drinks coffee morning, noon and night and coffee is very hard on mugs, so I tend to point him towards the beakers that will take the strain.
|Mugs that can take the strain|
Coffee stains china and gets into places that it won't come out of. Plus, quite apart from his other mug-unworthiness, the In-Charge has been guilty of breakages. He broke my favourite summer mug - the #1 Son mug - and committed the cardinal sin of not telling me, so I had to find out by spending a futile morning searching for the missing vessel - to no avail.
Luckily for our marriage, I was able to buy a replacement.
I hardly need add that his use of the replacement is verboten.
|#1 Son mug on the left - it makes me think of him. The other one was a gift from him, so is also verboten|
My mother can't have realised what she was starting, all those years ago.
I was brought up to love things, and look after them, but not to be acquisitive.
As with many aspects of every upbringing, that proved to be a miserable failure.
I adore things and am happy to acquire.
I love colour, craft, pattern, texture, textiles, art, pictures, images - the whole merry shebang.
I suppose to the wartime generation, acquiring things you didn't actually need was considered extravagant, but that was then. To me things are the produce of mankind, the wonders he dreams up in the fabulous tangle of his mind; the constant evoking of the wonders that surround him in nature.
I suppose art comes from the need to find within ourselves some meaningful way of either expressing or exorcising everything we experience in the world we are brought into, it is our constant struggle to turn it into something tangible and meaningful.
I create lots of things, but I don't create mugs, so I don't suppose my addiction will ever end.
Each one is beautiful, and someone's design, using shape, colour, pattern and form.
That is wonderful in itself.
So why not have your tea out of something uplifting? You never know, it might do you more good than the drink itself.
I know I will.
|Favourite dog mugs|
|My special mug, decorated by #1 Son in the style of a fashion designer he likes, Paul Smith|