This is no ordinary ceramic mug; this is a mug that I purchased from the Manchester Museum gift shop in November 2006.
“Big Deal!” I hear you cry. Anyone could buy a mug from the Manchester Museum gift shop. Well anyone who pays a visit to the Manchester Museum could anyway.
True enough and certainly what makes this particular mug so special is not the fact that it was purchased from a museum that isn’t even the most exciting museum in its native city (it is worth a visit if you are in the vicinity, but there are more exciting offerings in England’s third biggest city). What makes this mug so special is what happened shortly after I purchased it.
The reason I purchased it was not because I was enamoured with the afore-mentioned museum (though as I say, it was acceptably diverting) but because I had only recently moved to Manchester and did not have a mug of my own to use in the horrible digs I was renting. Furthermore the reason I was even in the museum was because I was out with my girlfriend (who is now my wife for added context) and also her parents who were visiting her from Essex for the weekend. I didn’t actually reside with my girlfriend but I had moved to Manchester in order to be closer to her, and consequently spent every available moment in her flat which explains why I had no mugs of my own. As the visit to the museum drew to a close it became apparent that she did not have enough vessels to provide hot drinks for more than three people at any one time, so I decided to buy the above object to alleviate the problem when we all went back to her apartment, with the added bonus that I could take it back to my dingy room afterwards and enjoy hot beverages in my own abode for the first time since moving there.
The issue was duly solved and we all enjoyed a nice cup of tea before heading out for a reasonably priced meal on the famous curry mile.
Later that evening, I was making my way back to my own undesirable dwelling, in the less than salubrious Burnage, when I was accosted by two inebriated but fairly burly men. I was holding the mug in my hand, but it was in a small box and one of the men thought that rather than a simple coffee cup, I might instead be holding a satellite navigation system. Why he thought I would be walking the streets of Manchester alone at night with a sat-nav is anyone’s guess. Surely if I did own such an appliance then I would also own a car and I would have been driving myself home. Nonetheless he thought what he thought and so naturally decided it was probably worth stealing it off me.
“It’s not a sat-nav,” I protested opening the box to reveal my treasured objet d’art in all its ceramic glory, “it’s a mug.”
Obviously disappointed, he paused for a second before deciding that sat-nav or not, he was going to steal it from me. He tried to wrestle it from me but somehow (and to this day I’m still not sure how) I managed to ward off his attempts. His mate didn’t seem particularly interested in helping him and so rather than pursuing the matter further; he decided that it probably wasn’t worth fighting me over a mug, so hurling some choice expletives in my direction he sauntered off.
It was only when I had safely got back to my hovel that I realised that I had actually just been mugged for a mug. Which is a tremendous pun. On reflection I still have no idea what was I thinking when I fought back. At £2.99 it wasn’t hugely expensive as mugs go. It certainly wasn’t worth dying for.
Nonetheless, to this day it remains one of my most treasured possessions. This is partly because it gave me the ‘mug-mugging’ story, which always goes down well in the pub. It also serves as a reminder to choose my battles more wisely. Additionally it is something of a trophy because at the end of the day I did win that encounter.
Fundamentally, though, I love it because it’s the perfect size for a good cup of coffee.