Many venues that I like to visit will come with the ubiquitous café and shop – sometimes very fancy and posh, sometimes quite acceptable, often overpriced.
Going into the shop, people seem delighted to buy a generic bar of chocolate or toffee simply because the wrapper screams “I was here” about the location. The same wrapper they will throw in the bin when they eat the contents. Baffling.
I however collect cups, or mugs if you prefer – each with a logo of the offending location.
Not because I have a particular thing for cups or china in general, but because I learnt something a long time ago about tourist shops. They almost always have branded cups for sale.
You’ll rarely find tea towels at an industrial heritage site, model trains at a stately home or jigsaws at a science venue – but they will all sell cups.
The branded cup is the secret language that almost all tourist venues share, and even non-tourist venues might dig out some cups from the canteen supply and try to sell some if they are expecting visitors.
I am able to build up a collection of tourist tat that shares a commonality in shape and design that sits comfortably on shelves.
So I collect cups.
I have a posh cup from Buckingham Palace, a canteen cup from a bus garage, a navy blue cup from an aircraft carrier. I have loads cups, each reminding me of memories past.
I also have other cups, plain unadorned cups – cups for drinking from and can be put in a dishwasher without the decoration being stripped away. Tourist cups may be expensive, but they are rarely dishwasher safe.
Oh, and I have a teddy-bear, but that was a present from a museum’s press office.