Category Archives: Research into seeming trivia

Do you have a favourite mug?

I hope you’ll forgive me this rather trivial post, but, hey, it’s Friday afternoon.

I’d like to talk about mugs. Specifically, the shape of mugs, and our preferences thereof. Many years ago I discovered, to my dismay, that my best friend (and flatmate at the time) preferred drinking tea out of tall thin mugs. Not like – the world will end if I have to drink tea out of a short fat mug! – but just, faced with a cupboard full of clean mugs, she’d take out a tall thin one if she was making herself a cup of tea.

I’m the opposite – don’t like tall, thin mugs. The proportions just seem wrong, the tops seem too narrow, tea doesn’t cool down right.

I was dismayed because I suddenly realised that for a year, I’d been actively going out of my way to make her a cup of tea that was, in a minor but real sense, not the way she would like it. Without really thinking about it, whenever I made us both a cup of tea, I’d been getting two short fat mugs out of the cupboard.

Now I always make her a cup of tea in a tall, thin mug (while congratulating myself on my thoughtfulness). I like to think this is a touching testament to the depth of our 20 year friendship. Eclipsed only by the time she helped me squeeze a boil on my bum.

Anyway, my own mug-fussiness has now reached the point where I have a very specific shape of mug I prefer. Funnily enough, I don’t care in the slightest about the colour or decoration of the mug. Only about the shape. It’s a physical thing about what feels comfortable to drink. If I’m making a cup of tea I’ll comb the house, if necessary, for my favourite mug, and wash it, rather than use one of the other mugs, sitting there clean in the cupboard.

People have laughed at me for this, and called me anal. And, y’know, I do realise it’s a bit silly. But I just prefer drinking tea out of a particular-shaped mug. And as peccadillos go, I think that’s pretty harmless.

Ross and I are living with my parents for a bit at the moment (such fun, can’t tell you…). I’ve realised that they have favourite mug shapes too.

Mum likes tall thin ones. She thinks they’re more feminine. (For an ardent feminist she has some odd ideas…) Dad likes shorter mugs with a curved-out lip at the top. But not the ones that are dark-coloured inside. In fact we got into an in-depth conversation about this where Dad lined up his favourite five mugs on the kitchen counter-top, in order of preference. I now feel fully equipped to make parental tea. Phew!

At first Ross laughed at us all for this. But he’s recently confessed that he prefers some of their mugs to others. He particularly likes this one, he particularly dislikes that one, with a whole load of gradations in between. So now I’m wondering, how common is this?

Do most people have a favourite mug, like us? Or do most people not care, and Ross has just got infected with our weirdness? Let’s find out. So, continuing my occasional series researching absolutely trivial matters, could you vote in this poll?


A urinary etiquette question

I know there are lots of other things to worry about, and this doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things. But this is a question that bothers me greatly, and I’d like to know what you think.

If you’re staying at someone else’s house, and you go to the toilet in the middle of the night, should you flush, or not?

(If you’ve only done a wee, I mean, I’m not a barbarian).

I used to think I knew the answer to this. I mean, wee’s just water, with some urea and salts dissolved in it. It’s mainly sterile. Some wee in the toilet never hurt anyone. I assumed most people wouldn’t be bothered by it.

Whereas flushing the toilet in the middle of the night could be really annoying. Some people’s toilets make a loud noise. Some people’s toilets are right next to someone’s bedroom. Some people are light sleepers.

As someone with insomnia, I can find it difficult to get back to sleep if I’ve been woken up. I’d a million times over rather deal with a bit of urine in the toilet in the morning, than be woken in the night by a flush. I always assumed most people felt the same.

Then a random pub conversation with my fastidious friend Jon revealed that he’s disgusted by urine. He thinks it’s really dirty. He would never, even in extremis, wee in a sink. He was disgusted to hear than anyone ever does that.

And thus, my assumptions lie in tatters.

I didn’t think there was much point subjecting Jon to a party political broadcast on behalf of the urine-is-not-a-hygiene-threat-party. Disgust is a fairly primal emotion, if the research is to be believed. He’s been brought up with this idea about wee being dirty – it’s something he viscerally feels. He can’t be logicked out of it. All I can do is respect his view on that, flush the toilet if I ever stay at his house, and remember never, ever to pee in his sink.

But this leaves a dilemma. I know for definite that my friend Abi couldn’t give two hoots about wee in the toilet, and is a light sleeper. So I should flush at Jon’s house, but not flush at Abi’s house. But what about all the other people, whose views I don’t know? What should the default setting be?

You can make an educated guess for people you know reasonably well, but what about people you don’t know well? It happens more often than you’d think that you are an overnight guest in the home of people you don’t know well. There’s your partner’s relatives or friends who you may stay with. You might stay overnight at a friend’s house, without knowing much about their housemates. In Tales from the River, we were sometimes staying with people we’d never met before. Is it urine in the toilet or midnight flushing that makes you the worse houseguest?

Ordinarily, I’d tend to go with the ‘fussier’ view as a default setting. By which I mean, most people seem to be more hygiene-conscious than I am. If I’m in doubt, I assume that I’m the weird one. On that reading the ‘polite’ option would be flushing. But that’s not a no-risk option as you might wake people up.

Am I the only person who stands in an unfamiliar bathroom at 3am pondering these questions?

So I’m putting it over to you, denizens of social media land. Which would you prefer?