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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 14, 2011 @ 9:00 am

    You don’t really know me at all, do you?

    Laura Slattery

    All I want for Christmas is a Christmas gift guide that acknowledges the tat as well as the treasure. Instead I’m forced to shun their glossy pages for fear I might absorb their array of snowflake-pattern hot-water bottle covers, retro cake-stands and pen holders in the shape of giant pencil sharpeners and fall in consumer lust… It’s likely to happen, even though I don’t use hot-water bottles, already possess a retro cake-stand and am capable of rationalising the pen holder in the shape of a giant pencil sharpener as an office stationery joke of limited lifespan.

    It’s a tricky business, gift-giving subjectivity. For example, 66 per cent of people think the “keep calm and carry on” meme, and all products emblazoned with versions thereof, is a sloganeering ship that’s sailed, but 85 per cent of people think that’s just a #madeupstat. All of which makes it important to highlight the dark side of gift exchange; the faux pas presents; the “you don’t really know me at all” moments. It’s crazy what you could have had, as REM used to sing before they broke up and released a greatest hits collection just in time for the Christmas market. With that cheery thought of seasonal dissatisfaction in mind, here are my top three “must not buys” for 2011.

    Tulisa’s TFB The Female Boss Eau de Parfum – Celebrities have never been known for lending their names to the world’s finest colognes, but this fragrance could waft like a bed of delicate lavender infused with only the finest top notes from the meadows of heaven and I still wouldn’t want its scent anywhere near my wrists. It’s the title that grates – the “female boss”, so exotic a creature she merits her own olfactory trademark. Tulisa Contostavlos’s controversial arm gesture at the start of the X Factor, showing off a tattoo of those three words, not only attracted the ire of UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, but also had the effect of making Cheryl Cole’s walking hair advertisement for L’Oréal seem subtle. So it’s a no from me, but with the obvious deep regret that Tulisa’s sometime band colleague Dappy has not yet brought out an aftershave called The Male Boss. And as X Factor viewers will know, Tulisa’s Little Muffins are not, sadly, edible.

    Top Gear: The Stig Soap on a Rope – The Stig is that enigmatic bloke who poses on Top Gear in a dark-visored helmet and all-white motor racing suit, like a Michelin man after a life-changing diet, only not as cool. The story of the Stig is in fact a sorry legal tale that came to a head last year when Formula Three driver Ben Collins won a court case against the BBC after the broadcaster tried to prevent him publishing a book that identified him as the anonymous Stig. So it would be fun if as the layers of soap peeled away, the helmet revealed a miniature human head, rather than reaching its presumable destiny as a greying alkaline clump of indeterminate profession, dangling from the temperature dial. The Stig’s shower gel recently stood defiantly on the bargain shelves of my local Tesco for weeks, proving that not even puberty is a compelling excuse for a personal hygiene range trading off the snarls of Jeremy Clarkson.

    BBC DVD of The Royal Wedding: William and Catherine – Ah, Kate and Wills, bless. The dress! The abbey! The bridesmaid’s backside! Relive all those romantic moments from last April on this special DVD from the BBC. Pause and rewind to see if Amy Huberman was actually there. Marvel over the construction of Tara Palmer-Tomkinson’s new nose. Did Samantha Cameron really not wear a hat? These were good times… or at least they were over on ITV, where reliable old Philip Schofield and company proved more willing and able to first identify and then gossip about the celebrity guests en route to their pews than the stiff-upper-lip BBC with its stream of constitutional experts, royal historians and awkward silences. So if royal wedding memorabilia is your thing, make sure to request the ITV highlights – or better still, drop hints about the charms of the made-for-TV movie version. It’s a bit like Made in Chelsea, only based on a true story.


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