Beware the office whip round. A strong arm tactic to collect money for a gift earmarked for a colleague; opt out at peril of your weak limbed grasp of the greasy pole. Workers know their drip feed investment into the office equivalent of a Ponzi scheme is as as likely to create meaningful long-term yields as it’s likely for senior Ministers of State to gift HRH Queen Elizabeth II with a set of table mats. Except they did. British Cabinet Ministers commemorated the Queen’s December 2012 visit to a Cabinet meeting with a whip round for sixty melamine table mats fit for a Queen.

“You can never have too many table mats” crowed Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Thinking the Under Butler quickly stuffed the mats into the Royal regifting cupboard brands your scribe as decidedly middle class. Why? Because the gift was suggested by Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s breakfast table includes Tupperware, so melamine mats make for comfy cupboard soulmates.

In her 1950 book Home Making, Julia Cairns wrote, “The average home and those which rank higher than average have for a considerable time favoured table-mats.” “Chic and moderne“, mats revealed the “more modern type of smaller table”. But Cairns was wistful. “I hope the days are not too distant when present home-makers will see to it that the traditional charm of the well-laid table will be as much their personal pride as it was of earlier generations.”

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Lucie Pritchard hand printed linen table mats create the “future” table charm Julia Cairns hoped for in her 1950 reflections on a well-laid table.

The book includes a photo essay on then Princess Elizabeth’s marital residence at Clarence House. No shots of laid tables or TV trays in front of a black-and-white telly, but the text does reference “a kindly mushroom shade” fitted carpet and one in a “a deep likeable green”.

So if One (or anyone) must have table mats who does your scribe recommend as the source? British textile designer Lucie Pritchard. Adapting hand written vintage postcards as the visuals for her hand printed natural linen table mats, coasters and napkins, they are available from Not on the High Street (sold out but re-stock mid-January 2013.) Your scribe concedes Queen and Country are correct. Table mats are de rigueur. Just remember to choose wisely. DJ

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Lucie Pritchard hand printed linen table mats at Not on the High Street

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