My endeavour to bring the Diamond Jubilee and London 2012 together in egg cup form seemed like such an innocent idea, and yet it provoked a lot of controversy.
The idea, when it came, was a stroke of brilliance. It’s the Jubilee, it’s the Olympics; let’s celebrate with hand-crafted illustrations of Her Maj in regal lycra, leaping, jerking, pedalling and pumping as she’s never leapt, jerked, pedalled and pumped before. And let’s put our sporting Queen onto egg cups. Genius. Perhaps not Knighthood material but worthy of some kind of an award.
Some said it couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be done, but it was all under control. We steered clear of those perilsome Olympic trademarks, avoided any claim to be officially sanctioned and stayed the right side of the libel laws (although not, some said, of taste and decency). Plus, we’d perfectly united two great events in a way none imagined possible. But what we hadn’t prepared ourselves for was the shit shower we were about to step into.
Apparently egg cups featuring our Majestic Head of State crouching in a ‘snatch’ or astride a hurdle aren’t to everyone’s taste. No sooner were Regal Egg Cups off the blocks than the letters and emails started pouring in. “You should be ashamed of yourselves.” “Despicable.” “Highly unlikely and rather grotesque.” And so it went on. Over two hundred complaints. Two hundred! That’s two hundred people with nothing better to do than complain about our “treasonous” egg cups. Normally we might have considered this an endorsement (of sorts) but when accompanied by threats to dob us in to LOCOG, Trading Standards and those people that keep advertising clean, well, it was all becoming a little hostile.
Never in the history of breakfast crockery has one innocent egg cup provoked such fury. It was, and apologies in advance, eggsasperating.
And then things got dirty. Our website was assaulted. Grievously. Three ‘Denial of Service’ attacks left our little business on its knees. Regal Egg Cups had become the victim of a concerted campaign to have its product erased from the public consciousness. We even started getting letters threatening legal action. Never in the history of breakfast crockery has one innocent egg cup provoked such fury. It was, and apologies in advance, eggsasperating.
Things weren’t much friendlier on the high street either, where our humble egg cups inspired fear amongst shopkeepers. The Olympics might be for everyone, but the attack dogs of Trading Standards had terrified the cack out of people. No official Olympic hologram? Not worth the risk, mate. You’d think we were selling DVD knockoffs or dodgy Polish cigarettes, but these were egg cups forchrissakes. Is this what it was like in Nazi Germany? Obviously not, but you get the point.
Lesser men might have chucked in the napkin and moved on, but an emergency meeting of the Regal Egg Cups board resolved to fight back. The response, “Don’t Ban Our Egg Cups”, was a campaign born of frustration. This was no longer an issue about whether it was good or bad taste to represent an eighty-six year old women in lycra (and a Queen at that) but whether we wanted to live in a society that censors souvenir ceramics. My grandfather didn’t fight in two world wars for that, I said to myself. And so we took to the timelines of Facebook and the online petitions to marshal our response. Today, our story has been broadcast around the world and peoples from Indiana to Montenegro have taken a stand with the people of Regal Egg Cups. Unlikely? Perhaps. Inspiring? Certainly. Effective? We hope.
Perhaps this all sounds like the frivolous tale of an adventurer souvenirist but look again and you may see a deeper truth amidst the shattered egg shells. The Olympics is meant to be a celebration of the human spirit and its ambition to triumph against the odds. But we saw an Olympics that, off the track, seeks to silence and control, and where the wrong kind of celebration is a risky business. If the Olympics truly is for everyone then surely there must be a place for a set of mischief-making egg cups.
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