U already? U better believe it!
U Bend: I’m not going to dwell on this topic too much as it will be more fully explored in a later post, but it’s worth mentioning here that this section of your bathroom plumbing is likely to take an intense and extended battering over the holiday period. With this in mind keep plenty of Toilet Duck on standby (or Harpic Fresh if that’s the way you roll in your house), and stock up on eco-friendly bog rolls and industrial strength air-fresheners. As far as the latter goes, don’t confuse the cat’s Feliway with the Glade plug in, as trips to the crapper can be a matter of some urgency during the festive season and the last thing you want to contend with is a blissed-out-on-catnip cat who turns into an angry sabre-toothed tiger when you try to shift her to gain access to the Throne of Easement. Oh – and don’t forget that other U-Bend under the kitchen sink. Invest in a plunger and a bottle of Mr Muscle sink ‘n’ drain blaster and you could save yourself hours with a wire coat-hanger purloined from the kid’s Blue Peter advent crown and a pair of leaky Marigolds.
Ukuleles: There’s a good chance someone in your family will get one of these for Christmas. You could try accidentally sitting on it, but as the bloody things now only cost around fifteen quid the chances are it won’t be long before another one makes it into your home and somebody ends up joining a Ukulele band of some sort. On the plus side, it will get ‘em out of the house at least one night a week and they will get the opportunity to meet other like-minded pluckers and strummers. On the downside, they will play it in your presence sometimes and as a supportive parent and/or spouse you will have little option but to smile politely and encourage them. Who knows, they might even end up playing on a charidee single like THIS ONE
Remember, you don’t have to listen to it if it’s not the kind of music you like and you don’t even have to take the single – you can say ‘no thanks, I’ve already got one, but here’s a donation anyway.’ That’s what I’d do. Probably.
Underwear, Sexy: Dodgy topic this, because on the one hand many women seem to associate it with the objectification of the female form and pandering to the whims and sexual fantasies of their patriarchal oppressors, while on the other hand many other women seem to like it. Even more difficult to negotiate is that strange middle ground where women wearing it for their man, the right man, find it empowering and fun, but where pretty women advertising it are selling themselves out to the wrong type of men who fall into that patriarchal oppressor category, or are just plain ‘creepy.’ You see, it’s a minefield.
It is, of course, a very complex issue, and it goes without saying that the fashion and glamour industries are bang out of order in the way they promote unrealistic and manipulated models of beauty that objectify, and by extension diminish and commodify, women. But… Here’s the rub. Men do like looking at women – especially pretty, sexy women wearing pretty, sexy underwear and/or clothes – and women like to be looked at – especially if they’ve gone to a great deal of trouble to make themselves look pretty and have put on sexy underwear and/or clothing to make themselves look prettier and sexier. Additionally, women like looking at attractive men in just underwear too.
And while it may be true that beauty is only skin deep, and that we should love people for who they are and not how they look, it is also true that the rules of attraction, for men and women usually imply a leaning towards particular types of looks that are generally considered good, and particular types of bodies that are generally considered hot. By extension, a pale-skinned Jim Royle* modelling a pair of oversized white boxer shorts (perhaps with a small wee stain on the front) in a shabby bedsit is not going to have the same appeal as David Beckham, bronzed and oiled and sans wee stain, striking a pose against a luxurious penthouse apartment backdrop. And by further extension (ooer missus) Waynetta Slob*, squeezed into a two-sizes-too-small Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy range thong panty and push-up bra set is unlikely to look quite as appealing as, say, Mila Kunis. There. I said it. So kill me.
Upscaling: There’s much of this at Christmas, and while mostly food and drink related it can also apply to other aspects of our lives. On the food front, we often find ourselves investing in turkeys the size of Shetland ponies or monstrous legs of finest Serrano ham that look like they’ve been hacked off the rear end of a fully-grown bull elephant. A 5kg bag of Rooster potatoes is also likely to produce a few too many roasties for the average family of four, especially when you consider the allotment of side vegetables you’re going to be piling on your plate.
Other upscaling adventures may include TV’s, hi-fi’s, surround-sound systems, kitchen equipment, kitchen furniture, dinner services, glassware, and houses. Christmas tends to remind us that we desperately need these extras, but we often overlook that we only need them for that one day a year and then only to impress our Christmas houseguests who will probably go away thinking about us in very different Up terms than the upscaling one we were hoping for. This is not upscaling, it’s one-upmanship, and it’s horrible. So shove it up your bum, you up yourself upstart…
Useful Gifts: Don’t buy women useful gifts (saucepan sets, vacuum cleaners, exercise bikes…) – they generally don’t appreciate them. Insanely expensive perfumes and jewellery always seem to go down well. Chocolates are a double-edged sword. Men, on the other hand, quite often appreciate useful gifts (cordless hammer drills, socket sets, mahussive hi-def surround-sound tellies…) but may be less interested in the chocolates and toiletries and stuff. Underwear makes good stocking-fillers for both, though for different reasons: women like to replenish their stocks of ‘best’ knickers, while men are often down to their last couple of pairs of holey y-fronts by the time Christmas rolls round. As with everything there are no hard-and-fast rules. Remember, that terrible old cliché – assume makes an ASS out of U and ME – and don’t go making any gender-specific assumptions. Some women like electric drills and mahussive televisions and some men like jewellery and perfume and even lacy knickers. It’s all good, and, despite what some fools might try to tell you, what god and nature intended.
* Please Note: Examples used are both fictitious characters portrayed by actors. No inference should be drawn to extend the comments made to include the actors portraying those characters. That said, I would rather spend an evening chatting to Ricky Tomlinson and Kathy Burke than David Beckham any day of the week**.
** Please Note: I did not include Mila Kunis in the previous disclaimer. Mila, if you’re out there and reading this and you’re ever at a loose end… Okay, I know it’s very, very, very unlikely, but in the event of an apocalypse or something…