Friday, 6 December 2013

The Inappropriate Christmas Wishlist

I was sort of an odd child. Bookish and curious. My sisters played barbies and I did wordsearches. My favourite books were the Atlas and the Argos catalogue. Is that a potential band name? I think it might be.
My Mum did loads of catalogue shopping, which she once told me was because her Mum never did catalogue shopping and so she loved it. As a fully grown person in charge of my own money I never do catalogue shopping, so I suppose I have reversed the trend. But as a child? I totally loved catalogues. I used to come home from school and read the aforementioned Argos catalogue, then the Grattan one, then the Littlewoods one, then the Freemans one. Needless to say, I was really cool and had loads of friends and all the boys fancied me.
It was a family joke that you could name any item from the Argos catalogue and I could tell you which page it was on, how much it cost, which colours it came in and the catalogue number.

Did you know that I briefly worked in Argos when I was 17? Well you do now. I did not love it as much as I loved the catalogue.
Oddly enough I don’t really remember us ordering many things from the catalogues but I loved to look at the pretty pictures of patio furniture, toasters, board games,  and women in bras while wondering if I’d ever grow breasts. I dreamed of duvet covers and video cameras and mugs and mix-and-match beachwear. As I said, I TOTALLY LOVED catalogues.
I have always been drawn to September as the start of a new academic year means fresh starts and pencil cases and notebooks and NEW CATALOGUES. This was especially good because I was then allowed to cut up the old catalogues, a task that seemed much more exciting in my head as I flicked and licked (catalogue people are pros at the art of dampening page corners for speedy perusal) my way through the pages and daydreamed of cutting and sticking dream home layouts. Hell yes I made mood-boards in the nineties, I practically invented Pinterest.
Never mind that the images weren’t to scale and the paper quality was weak and my cutting and sticking skills left a lot to be desired.
September also marked the arrival of the highly coveted Christmas catalogues. The ones with personalised dressing gowns and wallets and gumball machines and inflatable furniture. As I said, it was the nineties.
Once the Christmas catalogues arrived I used to rush home and browse the pages whilst frantically drawing up a incredibly detailed chart for my parents (and Santa). Hell yes I made hand-drawn spreadsheets in the nineties, I practically invented Excel.
A set of personalised coloured pencils, please
One column for the price.
A journal (I’ve seen American TV shows, a ‘diary’ will not suffice)
One column for the catalogue it was in.
Fluffy animal slippers (must NOT be the same as my sisters)
One column for the page number.
A manicure set
I’d finally stopped biting my nails.
A quick-dry hair towel (PINK)
I wanted everything that would transform me into the stylish woman I knew I was becoming.
Chocolate body paint
Anyone who ever seen a Christmas catalogue will know there is always a page with novelty adult gifts. Here you would find tasteful presents such as the apron with a semi-clothed man on it, penis and boobs pasta shapes and, well, chocolate body paint. It came in a jar. With a brush.
I really did love chocolate. I loved chocolate so much that Christmas Day breakfast was chocolate coins. One of my most highly anticipated gifts was a selection box. And I loved chocolate so much that I could think of nothing better than smearing my arms in the stuff and licking it off because I was clearly a child gone wild. I loved chocolate so much that the other items on this page were oblivious to me. This was THE CHOCOLATE BODY PAINT PAGE and I knew I had to have it in my life.
So onto the Christmas list it went. Every year. For four years.
I do not know what must have gone through my parents minds when they sat down to review my Christmas wishlist. I have never asked. I sincerely hope they pissed themselves and had a right good giggle at what an idiot I was.
I did not receive chocolate body paint for Christmas and I felt the frustration of this keenly. One year I do remember that I got chocolate scented bubble bath which was rank and clearly not what I had asked for so there was an incident involving a minor huff.
One year the Christmas catalogues arrived (YAY!) and I sat down to make my wishlist. As I flicked through the pages my eyes were drawn to the chocolate body paint and I was suddenly filled with the horrifying realisation that for the past four years, unbeknownst to my tweenage self, I’d been asking my parents for a sex toy for Christmas.
I did not put chocolate body paint on my Christmas list that year nor ever again.

Monday, 2 December 2013

My Top Longreads in October/November

Double bill this month, although to be fair October was so busy that I actually only managed to read about 5 articles. In November I went to Australia for two weeks (mega post about that coming up) so had plenty of time to read. It was a mixed month, some of these pieces are lovely and cheering but some are a bit of a downer so please pick and choose according to your mood!

Here are some of my favourites:

Oops, You Just Hired the Wrong Hitman - On America's secret world of undercover hitmen. Trigger warning for violence, there are some not nice people in this piece.

Women and the Internet - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. Good collection of thoughts on online and offline violence, trolls, gender roles and feminism.

Thanksgiving in Mongolia - Ariel Levy's heartbreaking piece about travel, motherhood and loss.

The Secret Life of a Manhattan Doorman - I love stuff like this, what a fascinating job!

The Meanings of Life - Do you what a meaningful life, or a happy one? What's the difference? This piece will help you decide.

A Horrorphobe is Forced to Watch His First Scary Movie - Not a massive read but interesting thoughts about why we do and don't like horror films.

Free-drying the Dead Could Help Save the Planet - This is SO interesting to me (in case you didn't know, I studied Death and Dying) and I'm intrigued by the future of the death industry.

What Does Your Credit Card Company Know About You? - The results might not be that surprising but the way the banking industry makes predictions about you based on the results sure is.

How Companies Learn Your Secrets - Fascinating piece on one of Target's statisticians and the story stores can piece together using your data.

Queen Victoria's Stalker - One of my favourite pieces of the month, an incredible story of the man who managed to sneak into Queen Victoria's bedroom!

Embracing the Void - The remote sculptures that will change the way we look at the sky and our place in the world.

The Hair Down There - Whether you're all for it or can't bear it, this is worth a read with a mind open to challenging your perceptions.

Now We Are Five - David Sedaris' moving piece about his sister's suicide.

How I Met Your Father - Hint: He ran the strip club she worked in.

Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you - Bit techy but a great look at some of the most irritating design features known to man. Ever been caught out my small print? This is for you!

The Andrew Wylie Rules - Hard-ass, old-school literary agent shares his thoughts on digital publishing.

Big Sometimes Friendly Giant - A look at Roald Dahl's life. If you don't know much about his history, be warned that it was not as lovely as you might hope!

I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. I Do. - The nine wives of John Susor.

What's Wrong With Cinderella - One Mum's struggle with Princess Power

The Science Behind What Naps Do For Your Brain - Basically, go take one now!

The Craziest OkCupid Date Ever - Not sure I'd go on a 21 day date across 8 countries wearing only the clothes on my back but these people did!

And finally, not a longread at all but still rather nice - The Man Who Invented the Calendar

Like this post? Check out my other longreads collections