It is a truth universally acknowledged that a life-long native speaker of English is, when handed a microphone or placed in front of recording equipment and commanded to say something, anything, constitutionally incapable of producing anything more eloquent than “Erm, hello, hello, my name is X – is this working? Um, I don’t know what to say. One two, one two…”
I have much the same problem with presents. Despite living my life in a perpetual vortex of helpless materialistic covetousness, when faced with any of my relatives asking me what I’d like for Christmas I am unable to come up with even a single thing. I find myself saying things like, “Oh, there’s not really anything I actually need,” or “I suppose I can always use some opaque tights,” at which point I realise I’ve become very, very old and start panic-requesting sparkly hair mascara and a twelve-pack of blue WKD.
This year, therefore, I decided to go old-school. An actual Christmas list, albeit one compiled purely for my own reference rather than to hand out to all comers, would at least give me some definite material for the Season of Goodwill to All Men As Measured in Legal Tender – and then whenever I found myself thinking, ooh, I REALLY need an ergonomic cherry-stoner-cum-olive-pitter in matte brushed steel or wouldn’t it be great to have a different set of matching Doctor Who knee-socks and nail art for every day of the week?! I could just add it to the list rather than letting it die a natural and merciful death. It might even be exciting to see what sort of picture my desires and aspirations formed, in the same way that reading back through an old diary can show you things you never really realised about yourself. Maybe I’ve got the soul of a yearning artist! Or a nascent musician! Maybe my list will be full of things like a year’s subscription to The Financial Times and a beginner’s guide to 8th century blue-glaze Chinese pottery and a high-powered electron microscope and a full-size replica of the Phaistos Disc, a work on cryptography and decipherment and several blank notebooks. I started my list a few days ago, jotted down things as they came to me, and then read over it this morning.
Pretty bras, makeup, new shoes and four different items of kitchen equipment.
My wish list, my self-portrait, the sum of my being! Holy stuffing arseholes. I may as well have just gone the whole hog and asked for a lifetime’s supply of Valium and a freshly washed pair of pool boys. Oh god, I REALLY don’t have time for an in-depth revaluation of my life choices and feminist priorities right now. It’s the wrong time of year and I’ve got way too much on and anyway, all this angst is hell on my complexion. Opaque tights it is.