From bon mots to bon mugs at Mildmays

Residents at three Notting Hill Genesis supported schemes are having their poetry immortalised on printed mugs.

The Mildmays (6, 20-26 and 73 Mildmay Street) in Islington are home to more than 100 residents who are being helped to live independently.

For a period of eight weeks, 16 residents took part in a poetry project run by arts charity All Change and poet Simon Mole. Now the best lines from a poem written by the residents have been turned into 13 mugs, which will be used for coffee mornings at the scheme.

Marian Howell, Activities Officer at Mildmays, said: ‘The poetry project has been taking place at our weekly coffee mornings. There is always a lot of banter, conversations, sharing of jokes and laughter at these sessions, and Simon has been fantastic at capturing the best phrases and turning them into poetry. I couldn’t wait to see the mugs!’

Before presenting the mugs, Simon read out the full poem and thanked the residents for taking part.

Simon said: ‘Although I organised this project, I wouldn’t say I’ve been leading it. There is already so much creative discussion that happens every week at these coffee mornings – I just joined in!’

The captions (or should that be ‘cuptions’) included ‘Immaculatte’, ‘Biscuits and Banter’, ‘Reassuringly Unpredictable’ and ‘No Mugs Here!’.

Residents who took part in the project said they really enjoyed the coffee mornings with others calling it ‘fantastic!’

All Change brings artists and communities together, producing original and authentic arts projects and experiences, which develop understanding and make connections between people.  This project is part of Going Places, a programme which places professional artists in care settings and is supported by Islington Giving and Arts Council England.

*Photos by Leticia Valverdes for All Change.


The full Group Poem by the Tuesday morning coffee group with poet Simon Mole

Strong coffee, small cups
Biscuits, banter
Jokes, chatter
Chinwag, natter
We shoot the breeze,
We chew the fat
We blether, blather, jibber jabber,
Gossip, gabber, all of that
Tea-cup philosophy
Ad-libbed limericks
Thirsty slurps or dainty Sips
Half full or half empty, bring em quick
Where’s my coffee?! Grumble, groan
All experts in the fine art of the moan
Know a zen like calm descends
When a good old moan is shared with friends
So if all’s well, we’ll hunt far and wide
For the solitary cloud in a summer sky
And gently pick at that perfect image
“coz it’s not quite as blue as it could be, is it?”
We let off steam, we dream, we vent
Sit anywhere but on the fence
for this tete a tete, This Heart to heart where unexpected ideas spark
from stories shared
thoughts percolate
as cakes and treats arrive on plates
upbeat, charming, dry-witted, cynical
all reassuringly unpredictable
Chinwag, natter
Jokes, chatter
Biscuits, banter
The details matter
Cups are small, and coffee strong
A place where one and all belong