Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?
Anyone I know would know this was me, even without the rest of the body attached. We’re almost inseparable, my coffee mug and I. In fact this photo would be good for the order of service at my funeral – if there is an order of service – or indeed a funeral, come to that. My children might decide to pop my ashes in the garden shed to provide easy access for answers to future cooking questions. And yes, I can still answer cooking questions, even though I no longer cook…well, except for other people’s parties – even, on one memorable occasion, particularly magnificent strawberry tarts with crème anglaise. But once upon a time I cooked a lot, and as I don’t yet have dementia, I can still field queries as necessary.
My coffee mug is an integral part of me. And not just any coffee mug. This one. It’s had its predecessors, and will no doubt have its successors, but until it meets an untimely end, this is IT: one mug, washed and reused, constantly…daily…weekly. Which isn’t to say I don’t have others. On my last trip to the UK, I stocked up shamelessly against the day when I’d be forced to move on. The potteries in Stoke on Trent were irresistible. But that’s not yet.
My other purchase in Britain was socks. I love socks. They’re my hidden vice. When I was working, customers had no idea that come December, the gaudiest Christmas socks I could find lurked below my neat uniform shirt and long pants. Vivid green Ho Ho Hos cavorted around scarlet ankles, Father Christmases clambered over my tib and fib and bebaubled Christmas trees sprouted from my shoes – my clandestine two-fingered salute to those who saw me as less than human. These days, they’re more of a giggle for the shins. I’m still a child, at heart.
But the socks are hidden, and the coffee mug isn’t. Add the other hand and hunch the shoulders against the cold, and you have ‘mother’s vulture impro’. The variations are endless.