When I started my first MA back in 2004 (!), Dad sent me a joke:
Q: How is an academic like a squid?
A: When threatened, they both hide behind a cloud of ink.
So, when my former housemate, Claire, graduated with her MA, I gave her a nice pen (to create the cloud of ink) and a University Mug (to put the hot drink in to keep her company on those late nights spent working on the cloud of ink).
My parents were here in England for Christmas (No! That wasn't the disaster bit!) My washing machine was leaking just a bit. So Dad and I set about sorting it out. We had to pull out the machine from under the kitchen counter. Only, I'd forgotten that the counter top was actually resting on the machine. It was broken, and only looked like it was attached to the wall. So when we pulled the machine out, down came the counter top. And Claire's mug was on top! Several other things were on there as well, but fortunately only Claire's mug and one other (random, not special) mug broke. Of course, I felt terrible about having broken Claire's mug. She was very kind and said not to worry about it, but I did. The only time they sold those particular mugs was during Graduation. So I couldn't just nip up to Uni and replace it.
So, July comes around again. Graduation. Only this year, I'm participating in the ceremony. I wanted to get a new mug for Claire, and get one for Jenny (who'd been on my MA course, so was also graduating). Unfortunately, I was so rushed off my feet that day, I didn't get a chance to get any mug! So, what to do? What to do?
Inspiration. There's a ceramic painting shop on the High Street in Colchester. So I took Mom down there and we painted 2 mugs. She did the watercolour bit and I did the lettering. It's the backs of our heads (Claire, Jenny and mine) with morter boards flying up into the air. Then, along the other side it says 'University of Essex Linguistics'. And along the handel it has the owner's name. Mom had finished the artistic stuff, and I was working on the lettering for the 2nd mug when I decided they were turning out so well that I needed one for me. So Mom painted another, and I did the lettering on a 3rd. I had to send them off to be fired, of course, and it took 2 weeks to get them back. Then it was another 2 or so weeks till I could get both Jenny and Claire in the same room at the same time. I was absolutely desperate to give them their mugs! Finally, we managed to have lunch together last Thursday. They loved the mugs (of course!) So, here's the photos of what they look like: