Marcelle’s Mug

I drink tea from this mug at my father’s. It’s one of a matching set of four. Of course he didn’t buy it – my mother did. It’s very her. More slender than your regular mug and taller, with a splayed trumpet mouth reaching out.

On the outside the off-white china is illustrated with painted gardening pictures in leafy, woody, earthy colours with mushy pea green foliage. They look like the effortless drawings she did for us as children. Each item is labelled like a vocabulary exercise: spade, fork, tomatoes, herbs, wellies, water, seeds.

The inside is now beige-stained. A potted bay bush rises over the tea horizon as I drink. Just as she, in her tall blooming elegance, rose above the standard suburban household stuff to something special.

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