Life Props: The Mug

Life Props: The Mug

I can't remember when I bought The Mug. It was in the Oxfam charity shop on Aigburth Road in Liverpool. It stood out against the usual glass juicers and umpteen thimbles. I do know I was having a grim day and it made me laugh, especially since I had a copy of The Guardian in my bag. I think I paid fifty pence. I've treasured it ever since.

Was it some sort of freebie, either given to a relative by someone who works for the paper or in a goody bag at an event sponsored by The Guardian? Were they stuffed into the hands of students at a freshers fair, perhaps in The Bag, along with The Dish, The Plate, The Hat, The T-Shirt even The Towel?

It's the opposite of Magritte's painting, which wasn't a pipe. This is a mug. It says so. It's informative, much like the paper. I like objects which actually have their function written on them - I have a set of pasta dishes with 'Fusilli Pasta Ravioli' around the edge. But that's mostly decorative, whereas this is a statement of intent.

As of Monday, The Mug will be out of date, old news. As well as changing size, The Guardian newspaper is re-designing and one of saddest aspects to go is the title logo. As the editor Alan Rusbridger describes in today's preview copy:
"The title piece - a radical piece of eighties design genius with its then startling juxtaposition of italic Garamond and chunky Helvetica - will have been replaced by a more contemporary one using a new font designed especially for the Guardian."
The new logo looks a bit bland to me - it lacks a distinctiveness, despite the colour. I'll get used to it. And at least I'll have a reminder of how the paper used to look every time I make a cup of tea.


  1. Anonymous8:24 pm

    The Mug was part of a promotion The Guardian launched in 1994 for university students. I know because I signed up for it. You'd get books of vouchers giving you money off each edition of the paper, and when you'd used up a certain number of books you could send off for free gifts. There was The Mug, The Football, The Toaster, The Bag and a couple of other things. I ended up with two Mugs and the Toaster, plus a Football for someone I was sharing a house with at the time. Still use the Mugs and Toaster today, and I've no intention of throwing them away, particularly now. And especially as the new Guardian logo looks awful.

  2. So the toaster actually has The Toaster printed on the side -- and it's still working after a decade? That's excellent. I'm glad someone else doesn't like the new logo.