I went into a city yesterday, albeit a small one, to do a minuti of Christmas shopping.
After ten minutes of being smacked in the eyes by hard-sell gift adverts I'd had enough and headed towards a cake shop. Who spends a hundred and forty euros on a perfume gift-pack?
I did venture out of the cake shop again, but only to the rather nice 'Esprit de sel'. A shop stuffed with desirable objects of the culinary, decor, toiletry world; but even in there I experienced a sort of things suffocation.
Do we need a vase in the shape of a semi-squashed paper cup, or a plastic donkey post it note-holder; or room spray that smells of 'coin du feu' (the corner near the fireplace) certainly not ours; it probably smells of an overlooked dog pee or two and dead spiders - if they have an odour.
The point being, I think we have in the West have reached thing saturation. We don't need anymore items for the sake of them, books, yes, plants, yes, nice cake, yes, but not things you reveal on Christmas day and wish you hadn't: 'ha ha how drole. Angel and devil salt and pepper shakers - real china too'. As for electronic gadgets . . .
Anyway, lucky dip, yes.
My mother had a wonderful and eccentric friend, Margaret, I think - this is going back a few hundred years now. She had a great outlook on life and found a partner with the same outlook at the great age of eighty; they married and continued along life's highway until pegging out at about ninety I seem to remember.
Anyway, again . . . I once went to a Christmas lunch that she was also invited to. I can't recall anything much about the day now, other than her presents.
She appeared with a cardboard box full of small badly wrapped festive packages: 'Lucky dip' she called, and everyone took something from the box. 'everything from Oxfam, and nothing over fifty pence.' (probably about four quid now?)
There were varied expressions on faces, but mine was of delight as I unwrapped an orange and brown 70s tie, proposterous in its very being.
I wore the tie for several years at art college, teamed with skinny jeans, white shirts, braces and stilettos (it was the early eighties); unfortunately it was lost on some hovel-move or other, but I still remember it and Margaret with affection.