It was the culling season in the Wednesday household.
My second daughter stared in agonised indecision. "Mummy, it's so difficult to choose," she said. "Whichever four I save, two have got to go..."
I stood there; supportive, but refusing to make the decision for her.
Eventually, she took a deep breath, and separated two from the herd. "I'm sorry," she told them. "I'm so sorry..."
She stroked them one last time before, gently, I took them away.
"Mummy," she said. "Mugs have feelings too."
Yes – we have just one cupboard for mugs. It will hold sixteen mugs, which - for those of you who can do the maths – is four each. Now, mugs don't exactly breed, but they do increase, mostly because mugs are such a good gift. Everyone likes a nice mug for their coffee,* right? This means that every now and again, the mug herd becomes too large for its habitat, and spills out onto the window ledge; meaning numbers must be thinned.
But this last time made me think. I too had to cull, but which should it be? Not the lovely big mug with a peacock on it which my sister gave me. Not the mug with the green frogs on it which my sister gave me. Not the lovely big soup sized one with the butterflies, which my sister gave me. Not the one with cows on which – no, you're wrong – my mother gave me just last week because I admired it so much and she had too many mugs for her new home. Two others went out. Two I had bought for myself because I quite liked them.
Quite liking is not enough, there must be love. It is that love which makes my morning coffee a joy. Oh, and the coffee itself: I adore good coffee.
These small moments of joy are not confined to mugs and coffee. I love scented candles. I have one burning as I write this: Melon and Spiced Pomegranate; my daughter gave it to me. I have a beautifully soft turquoise blanket I wrap around me when reading or watching television, and scented handmade soaps in the shower. Yes, I am an unabashed sensualist.
It's easy to dismiss these little things. My coffee, after all, would taste the same from a plain white mug; even a chipped one. I could write without scent and music playing in my headphones. Any old rug will do to keep me warm and I would be just as clean with plain old carbolic soap in the shower.
But – yes – but...
I think we all recognise how small privations can build up to make us feel deprived and depressed. So – looking at it from the other side, what small pleasures can we build into our lives to help protect us against the onslaught of the black dog?
A coffee mug with a silly and happily grinning black dog, perhaps?
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*or beverage of your choice.
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