Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Socks for Christmas please

Parents are hell to buy presents for. You can't surprise them. Only disappoint. I should have got the message when I found the present I’d bought for one parent in the jumble sale pile within 2 weeks. there I was thinking she takes baths, so I’ll buy her some nice bath stuff (a whole range of bubble baths from boots, on a nice decorative hanging shelf type thing).

of course, what i didn't realise was that she likes posh baths. with posh soaps. and my definition of posh soaps was wildly different from hers.

What do you get for the man who has everything? Penicillin.

I'm doing all right. I want for nothing. if a new record comes out and I want to hear it, I’ll pop along to HMV in my lunch hour and buy it. I’m beyond the point where I have to justify the expense. (CD or lunch... hmmm let me think). I also would generally want to buy it now. I’m impatient - I wouldn't want to know that the Killers new album was available, and I hadn’t heard it for 6 weeks.

When you are poor, then presents are easier. I’d be wondering about buying something, saving up for it for weeks, or, if it was released before Christmas, I’d ask the parents nicely, and hope they sorted it in time. I may not have yet watched Batman Begins on Blu-Ray, but I’ve had it since the day it came out. It has been available to me for that time, and that’s the important thing.

I also have a problem with other people shopping for me. If I’d asked my Grandma to buy me batman begins on Blu-ray, one of the following two things would have happened.

• She’d have bought the DVD, as she has no idea about high definition, Playstation 3s or 1080p LCD televisions.
• She’d have paid WHSmith £25 for it, instead of ordering it online for £15 (still expensive but cheaper than 2 cinema tickets, and you don’t have to spend so much time shushing chavs in our lounge.)

(It is my prediction that WHSmith will follow Woolies and Zavvi into administration in 2009, as they can’t keep getting away with relying on high profit impulse buys, instead of the high volume sensible prices that play and Amazon are doing (relatively) well with. Mark my words. Go on – get marking!)

Wasting other peoples money gets my goat even more that wasting my own.

I was thinking about gifts that would be appreciated, and surprising. Gift vouchers are always nice (although it took me months to get through the WHSmith ones I got last year for the above reasons! They went mostly on newspapers and magazines.)

I think next year I might give everyone an hour’s computer lesson, where I tidy up their machine, get them AV and patched up, and leave them with instructions (and my phone number) in case anything goes wrong. I’m obviously not accessible enough based on the fact that my dad had gone to Currys, bought an iPod, failed to get it working and took it back to Currys, all in the space of an afternoon. I’d not received the text saying “how do I get music onto an iPod from my computer?” in time apparently. Don’t ask me what he did when his computer got a “virus”.

As a gift to you all now – here’s a computer lesson. Hopefully many of you are far beyond this level, but here goes, in no particular order:

• Install ONE antivirus product
• Keep auto update active on Windows.
• Make sure windows firewall and spy ware monitors are on.
• Don’t download compressed (zipped) files, unless you are totally confident of where they came from.
• Keep a backup on a totally separate disk (not a partition of the same disk) of anything important. Set a reminder on your computer, or in your diary to do it, as often as needed. A £15 pen drive would probably be big enough for most of your documents.
• Once a month(ish) run “disk defragmenter” and watch your PC speed up.
• Don’t open and print every email you receive.
• Don’t forward on virus warnings. 99.9% of them are bogus. Why would the Australian police force care if your adobe acrobat was up to date, and why wouldn’t they spell check the warning?

Next year – if you have the means, and were wondering what to give me for Christmas, here are some ideas.

• Advice – there are bound to be some things about which you know more than me. Help me out. Teach me psychology. Help me understand Sex in the City.
• Skills – sew my buttons onto my shirts. Turn up my trousers. Make me curtains. Tile my bathroom. Paint my doors.
• Time. It takes me ages to buy socks. I’m a man, so every shopping trip is a special and deliberate one. If I need socks, I’ll make special trip to the sock shop, deliberate about which ones to get, queue, pay, go home, wear them twice, and then wonder what happened to them. (I’ll let you fill in the Blackadder quote yourself.) Buy me socks, just when you are passing the sock aisle. Keep them cheap – I’ve not yet identified the difference in quality between yesterdays Tesco socks, and today’s Jasper Conran.

Happy Christmas, and a merry new year. I put them in the right way round. Why would anyone want anything other than a merry new year (unless they were planning on running a 10k race on New Year ’s Day?