You shouldn’t have. No, you really shouldn’t have
There is a lot to be said for a festive pair of socks. They’re warm, they’re practical and with any luck, they’ll have a cheery snowflake pattern – to remind you of what snow used to look like when it was all nice and white and theoretical and Bing Crosby-like. Christmas socks, like a good reindeer jumper, are in fact really excellent gifts masquerading as cliches. That’s not something that can be said for this lot, my personal list of items that I wouldn’t even bother faking gratitude for:
1. Straight Up: My Autobiography by Danny Dyer. Who? Why? How? Danny Dyer is the British actor who earlier this year, in his guise as an agony uncle for lad’s mag Zoo, suggested that a heartbroken reader ”cut his ex’s face, and then no one will want her”. That’s not really what I call the spirit of Christmas. Now Dyer, who claims he was misquoted, was rather good in Andrea Arnold’s short film Wasp. But that’s no reason to encourage his literary career by purchasing a memoir that “tears it up proper”, apparently. In general, it’s best to leave the domestic violence to EastEnders.
2. Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin. Read by the author. Oh no, NOT THE AUDIO VERSION. Listening to Palin, the inexplicably popular Tea Party lady, one feels new sympathy for Margaret Thatcher, who underwent vocal training to lower her voice by several semi-tones after advisers suggested she was too shrill. Palin’s dogs-only range proves Thatcher needn’t have bothered. While I’d usually object to the notion of a deeper voice = more gravitas on the grounds that it reaffirms the “naturalness” of male authority, in Palin’s case I’d make an exception.
3. The “Snuggie” from JML. JML is the ubiquitous direct sales firm with the kind of over-excitable pitches that encourage crawling back under the duvet forever. If you want to “use your laptop without being cold”, stick on a cardigan: do not be tempted by the sleeved ”Snuggie” blanket, which looks like the kind of thing Brian Blessed would wear on stage. In the Snuggie’s festive TV ad, a family of four sit wearing their matching cult-like druid’s cloaks and paper hats, looking like they’re taking part in a cut-price and slightly sinister re-enactment of the Nativity. A good rule of thumb: if an ad has its own YouTube parodies, don’t buy what it’s selling.
4. Cath Kidston business card holder. I’ll admit this is the kind of kitsch paraphernalia that I’m vulnerable to. But it’s all wrong. Firstly, no one wants to be reminded of work on Christmas Day. Secondly, a floral-patterned business card holder? Really? If you do have the kind of job that requires the cheesy exchange of business cards at the end of the meeting, you’re probably working in a profession that requires the maintenance of a degree of drab seriousness. In other words, it’s not the ideal opportunity for showcasing one’s affection for the retro, cutesy, reclaimed housewife-chic Cath Kidston aesthetic. That’s for cupcakes.
5. Working the Red Carpet by Lorraine Keane. There is a bit of a book theme emerging here, which possibly reflects the old NME assertion that even crap CDs can make excellent ashtrays. I’ve nothing against the ex-TV3 stalwart Lorraine Keane, who seems like a nice person. If you want a coffee table book showcasing pictures of her with fellow broadcasters Gaybo and so on, then this is the stocking filler for you. But let’s not pretend there is such a thing as a Hollywood-lite red carpet glamourfest in Ireland: anyone who happens to be passing Dublin’s Savoy Cinema while they’re having a premiere knows the truth.