Ringie was born of a golden age of newspapers – when we had imposing offices in Victoria Street, broadsheets, an army of reporters, printing presses ... and our very own joiners.
One such, fashioned our Ringie out of plywood to stop us being scalded by our very first vending machine. The jigsaw created six circles, of sufficient circumference to carry flimsy cups, as the supplied plastic ring carriers cracked under editorial’s collective caffeine addiction. Ringie was of sturdier stuff. He was a survivor...
As staff came and went, typewriters moved out and PCs moved in, only Ringie remained impervious to change.
But we could only yearn after him from afar, this Tolkienish one ring to rule them all, as he belonged to Classified. Until the day came when I fished him out of a skip; once a scouser, always a scouser, my precious...
Ringie bears evidence of previous ownership like battle scars of a battered teddy bear. When he went missing once there was a ransom note, but rather than negotiate with coffee terrorists in advertising we went on a night raid, bribing the cleaner to keep quiet with promises of changing our coffee-slopping ways.
As Ringie’s official custodian, the task fell to me to steam clean him, for he not only carries cups but the streptococcus that have swept colleagues away since the Spanish Flu pandemic.
Ringie’s original bilious brown emerged, buried under a rich dark patina of sweat, stains and sundry bugs, the displacement of which could have seen me fall prey to some strain last recorded in the days when bosses could only be addressed by their first names if prefaced by Mr. I don’t know what my colleague Ed would have made of that, but Mr Ed has a certain ring to it...
It was Ed who lamented loudly “But Ringie’s lost all his character” when the cleaned carrier arrived.
It reminded me of my niece Cloe’s horror when my mother, the Gok Wan of How to Look Good Bear (sic), restored our family’s heirloom – or teddy-bearloom – to former glory, ahead of his civil partnership to Cloe’s doll Marie-Antoinette, for whom he had quite lost his head. Ma covered his bare bits with blue fur fabric, giving him a very 80s Flash Dance legwarmer vibe, or a teddy Mr Tumnus from Narnia.
Which brings me, via a circuitous route, back to Ringie’s future.
In order to avoid having to clean another patina of pandemic, I dropped by at Chadwicks timber merchants, and asked if they could make me the happiest coffee drinker alive, by giving me a son for Ringie. And they did, free of charge, a superb sturdy offering complete with ornate engraving “Ringy 2: Lovingly handmade by Bob, Dan, Ray and Brian, February 2011. Chadwicks, patent pending.”
Cheers, a toast to craftsmanship!