My thank you letter came this morning. Not a one-size-fits-all generic letter but one that specifically mentions the gift and wishes me a happy birthday.
Isn’t that nice? 2nd class postage though.
I had always envisaged that the mugs would go to London. Aside from accidentally leaving one in the bar of a posh hotel I hadn’t managed to get any out in the capital. I decided a dedicated day trip was required.
This is as close as I felt I could get to the Houses of Parliament
It stayed there for about an hour before being ‘disappeared’. I don’t know if the police removed it or if a passerby took it but I hope they treasure it forever.
Then it was time to randomly hit the tourist shops
It was like a mug version of Where’s Wally.
I even got one in a window display in Oxford St
This was my favourite one
I got a bit cocky and tried to sneak one on a hook of a stall. The stallholder and the people he was serving turned to look at me and I said I just wanted to take a photo of my mug. After I’d done it I said to him triumphantly, ‘You can keep that!’, smiled and walked away. The look of total bemusement on the face of him and his customers had me cackling all the way up Oxford St. I think I maybe had heat stroke, it was 25 degrees.
I popped one into a bag commemorating the Happy Couple so whoever buys it will get a very nice surprise
Finally, there’s one being proudly displayed in The Hand In Hand in Brixton
Make sure to give me a wave if you’re in there.
Emboldened by my Lidl experience I left mugs in a couple of places local to me.
On the Paddington to Penzance train.
Tesco (Every little helps)
I would like to be brave enough to hang around and see what people make of them but as of yet I’ve just put them on the shelf and gone. I got caught trying to put one on an antiques stall at a car boot sale but I managed to get out of it with some charming chat. Phew!
Once I’d sent Wills & Kate their present commemorating 46 glorious years of me, it seemed logical and only fair to make my celebratory merchandise available to the public too. I decided to put my mugs in the shops. Literally in the shops. It tickled me to think of people coming across a fancy, flamboyant mug with my face on it, nestled amongst the other commemorative tat. The incongruity of a mug commemorating an anonymous forty-five year old woman seemed to resonate with the incongruity of a mug celebrating the wedding of two people they’d also never met. So, armed with a steely resolve I made my way to the shops to discreetly place my own mugs amongst the sea of tat.
Did I say discreetly? Have you ever tried putting something in a shop that doesn’t belong there? It was terrifying. Ok, terrifying may be pushing it somewhat. It was deeply uncomfortable though. It’s only when you try to do something like this that you realise how many ‘rules’ we subconsciously engage with in an act as seemingly simple as shopping. You don’t put things in shops, you give them money and they let you take things away. It all felt very odd.
The first shop I spotted that was going to be selling Royal Wedding memorabilia was Lidl. On the allotted Monday I went in, feeling as guilty as David Cameron should be feeling right now, hiding one of my mugs in my coat pocket. I looked around to see where the display was, all the time feeling like the security guard was going to grab me by the arm and march me out of the shop. It took a while to find the display, only to see that they were in individual boxes. They hadn’t been in boxes in the advert! I felt like a rabbit caught in headlights, like everyone in the shop was staring at me. Thoughts were racing through my head. Would I get arrested? Was what I was doing illegal? Was it even funny? Would people get it? The loudest and most persistent thought was, ‘How the HELL am I going to get their mug out of the box and put my one in without being noticed?’ Lao-tzu popped into my head and told me that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I asked him if the journey to the police station began with a single mug but he just looked at me like I was an idiot and disappeared.
So, with a deep breath I opened the red box and took out the mug with the smiling faces of our Happy Couple and looked at it, trying my hardest to seem fascinated, whilst wrestling my own cup out of my coat pocket with fear-wet-shaky hands. I placed the Lidl mug in the next display basket (why did that make me feel so guilty?) and put my own mug in the now vacant box. It didn’t fit! Now I was faced with the prospect of taking my mug out of the box and putting it back in my pocket. I was going to be arrested for shoplifting my own property! That solved it. I couldn’t bear being caught ‘stealing’ a mug with my own face on it so I quickly shut the box as best I could before taking a hasty, shaky picture on my phone. I felt like I was going to call out ‘RUN!’ to no-one in particular and make a mad dash for the door but I even managed to buy some cheap passata on the way out.
Now, the obvious thing to do with this mug of mine, this thing of solipsistic beauty was to send one to the ‘Happy Couple’ so they could share in my happy day just as the tsunami of commemorative merchandise that was flooding every available shop in the land was ensuring that I was ‘sharing’ in theirs.
I put it in a nice box, with a covering letter and toddled off to the Post Office to send it.
You could tell that the lady in the post ofice was dying to ask me what it was as she wrote, ‘HRH Prince William of Wales’ on the recorded delivery receipt. I suppose I don’t look like your average Royal Fan. I was surprised at how easy it is to send a package to a member of the Royal Family. I thought there might be protocols to follow like showing I.D or something. Seems it’s as easy as wandering into a village post office.
Of course I included a covering letter asking them to join me in celebrating my special day as the nation was joining together to celebrate theirs. Still waiting for a thank you though *taps fingers*
Well, when it was announced that ‘Wills & Kate’ had decided to tie the knot I was beside myself. Not because I’m a fan of the Royals, not because two extremely wealthy and exceptionally privileged young people were planning a lavish wedding at the expense of the taxpayer (all this while said taxpayers are witnessing the most brutal and draconian cuts to essential services for vulnerable people as a cost-cutting excercise). No, it was much more simple than that. They had announced they were getting married on my birthday. My birthday. I pondered why it vexed me so much: Was it that they were usurping my special day in some way? Well, I thought that was a bit daft because no-one knows me. And that’s when it occurred to me that no-one knows them either. Sure, we see their smiley faces in the press from time to time but the vast majority of us have never seen them in the flesh or spoken to them.
Despite the fact that these people are strangers to us; despite them having wealth, power and privilege on a scale that is impossible for us ‘normal’ folks to imagine; despite us paying for the sodding wedding while being told the country is virtually bankrupt and that, ‘It’s a terrible shame that your Grandma has just died of hypothermia because she can’t afford to heat her house in Winter but we’re all in this together!’; despite all this people still erupted into a rapture of well-wishing . People exclaimed, ‘Oh, isn’t it lovely to have something to celebrate for a change’, as if they had to rush out and buy a new hat and make sure that someone could feed the cats while they nipped up to Westminster Abbey for the day. The streets were quickly filled with hideous bunting and the shops stuffed to the gunnels with tacky commemorative merchandise.
As I peevishly bemoaned the fact that I probably wouldn’t even get a ‘Wills & Kate’ mug for my birthday my friend Lisa suggested that I make my own. And that’s where it started. The seed was sown and I decided I would make my own commemorative mug. So, I did.