Pots from Stoke or china from China? A mugs game.

Dunoonmug I've been dipping in and out of Roger Law's investigation of the porcelain industry in Stoke on Radio 4 this week. It is easily findable. Its well intentioned but still feels a bit of a PR disaster to me. What they have told me is that a) porcelain is coming right back into fashion – good times are here again b) an awful lot of production has switched to China c) there's a lot of cheating going on so if it says Made in England – it ain't necessarily so. d) What gets made in Stoke is still way better quality than what gets made in the Far East.

Alongside is a picture of my favourite mug. Which I bought in unpromising circumstances a few years ago looking for a souvenir as I flew home from a conference in Croatia. Most of the tourist section was I am afraid tat. Till I found this porcelain mug in the colours of the Croatian football team. I had just seen a presentation from the designer who had played a leading role in creating the Croatian national design identity from the football shirts to the logos on the planes. Great souvenir I thought and paid 14 euros for the privilege. Imagine my amusment when I found that what I had bought was from Dunoon. Chalk it down to great British manufacture I thought to myself.

It has become a favourite mug because fine porcelain is really more pleasant to drink from than earthenware or even glazed earthenware. I had never doubted its provenance until the programme this afternoon. So I check out the label which reads Designed in Dunoon. So right now I'm feeling a bit of a mug. Bought in Zagreb designed in Scotland, made heaven knows where.

And now I think about it – Roger and his mates from Stoke were going through verbal acrobatics. Because in their haste to explain that only the good stuff gets made over here (and is priced accordingly) there is one word they daren't use. A term familiar in this country for centuries to explain what we eat off. And which was what I called the Royal Doulton service we requested as a wedding present and quietly got rid of a few years later because we never used it. A term synonomous with quality, style and class. We're talking about china.



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