Stuff of media legend, Tanya Gold, was only last week in G2 complaining about the increasingly undue arrival of Christmas each year. Harrods was the target of her poison-tipped pen this time. Still, it’s November 28th and The Guardian’s Weekend magazine are wasting no time in telling you what to buy this Christmas…
Now I’m 21, I don’t have children, and so it's an age when I still think I’m going to dedicate my life to myself and my friends as opposed to, you know, breeeeding. So perhaps I cannot comment here. However, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at this page in Weekend. It’s an ideas page with gifts for kids, targeted at the Guardian’s quintessential reader. Great. I’ve no problem with disguised advertising deals, and I read The Guardian myself. My problem here is that kids simply don’t want this shit…
The Jack of Hearts is therefore giving you reality alternatives to some of the boring crap on this page. Let us be honest about the items on this page, if they cannot be eaten and if they do not break, they will simply queue-jump themselves to a prime spot under a child’s bed for a decade, before the child eventually grows up and bins it, or eBays it, or does whatever people will do in 2019, I don't know, melt it.
10) Wooden pirate ship, £45, Burford
Reality alternative: A toy Somalian pirate ship. No cutlasses or Jolly Rodgers, but includes an onboard internet hacker’s suite, machine-gun armed pirates, a Murdoch helicopter and nonchalantly misled tourist figurines.
12) Interactive dolls, £19.99, Liv Fashion
Reality alternative: It always was Barbie, it still is Barbie and it always will be Barbie. Just because you had a Woolworths cheapo alternative in the 1970s doesn’t mean your kids have to suffer. Bow down to beautiful bony Barbie and deal with it Mum.
11) Knitting kit, £14 by Cath Kidston
Reality alternative: In my opinion Cath Kidston’s done very well for herself considering it’s all an over-priced re-hash of 1980s chintz. I say buy your daughter a can of spray paint instead and take her for a walk along Camden lock. The less she knows about knitting the better. After all Mum, you are feminist aren't you?
14) A Zebra trike from V&A
Reality alternative: It’s no mere coincidence that zebra trike rhymes with quad bike.
9) Knitted all-in-one, £34.99, Toby Tiger
Reality alternative: a knitted all-in-one? AKA, "your child is going to be humiliated whenever the photos re-emerge, har har". Get a grip, get a zip and go to Gap Kids. Shops that will help your child to be normal, not damage them for life.
13) Bus, £30. The Little White Company
Reality alternative: Because Britain’s all about red buses, cricket greens, Wimbledon and Earl’s Grey isn’t it John Major? I think you’ll find life on this lovely island is supported by the distant racket of tanks. Buy him a tank Dad. He wants a tank, not a bus. Just like you want a Jaguar, not a unicycle. The assonance of the words says it all really: "bus". Hmm. "TANK". Yep.
2) Utensils mini-chef outfit, £22
Reality alternative: McDonald’s vouchers. Princess Diana had the right idea.
5) Multi-purpose helmet, £40, Nutcase Helmets
Reality alternative: The company is called Nutcase Helmets. Their clientele are presumably nutcase parents. NO CHILD needs a multi-purpose helmet. I really pity the parents who buy this shit. I hope the recipient kids move their baby trampoline into the front room and use their Nutcase Helmet to smash up the chandelier.
My conclusion is this. If you’re a Guardian-reading parent who is just wonderful as a person and has an eye for liberal, apolitical and lacklustre toys: please, please, please, grow up. If you’re a good parent then your children will enjoy reading, drawing, outdoor activities like sport (God forbid) or dressing up (much healthier). But when it comes to materialism - just bite the bullet and do it properly. Kids don't want wooden caterpillars. You want Cath Kidston, they don't.
Barbie. Action Man. Nintendo. Sony. High School Musical. Doctor Who. These brands are not going to kill your children, and if you raise your kids properly then they’ll be intelligent enough one day to see the wolf inside granny’s clothes.
So go on Dad… write out that reality cheque.