All right, who's with me here, I've decided to create an association for the safeguard of taste in presents.
Here's what caused my seeing-the-light moment. In my parents' sitting-room, I was struck by a horrendous lamp, made from a conch shell, which I can only assume is real, stuck onto some other horrendous shell, which I can only assume is plastic.
It's ugly. There's really no other word to describe it.
While acknowledging its ugliness, my mum, touched by the intent, has decided to display it anyway. The thing is, the people who gave it to my parents have made it a habit of going on holiday and bringing back horrible souvenirs. Before you go and say I'm a heartless spoilt little brat, I do think it's the thought that matters, I do. It's just that I don't understand why my mum thinks we should be made to suffer by looking at it each and every day. Or why they should be made to suffer, more accurately. After all, I am only there one week every six months, if that.
Understand me: there's a horrible clock in the kitchen, a horrible lamp in the sitting room, a horrible vase (thankfully tucked away in a cupboard, but I have no doubt that the day my mum needs it, there won't be enough pleading for her to use a cut plastic waterbottle instead of The Vase), and I have a Barbara Cartland book. Need I say more?
Now, this goes for Mother's day presents too. If I ever have kids one day (which I doubt, look at me, I'm tottering on the brink of old age as I type, but let's pretend I might, for the sake of argument), they will be expressly forbidden to bring back curtain-ring frames, noodle necklaces, tin pen holders, generally covered in felt, and all that useless crap that every kid (yours truly included) from kindergarten to age 10 (no idea how this translates in your language/country/school system/head) brings home, once a year, without fail, eyes full of anticipating joy at the idea of the pleasure they'll be inflicting (and I use the word carefully) on their mum.
My niece, whom I love to bits, who is the cleverest 7-year-old girl on the face of the planet and maybe even this side of the galaxy, who is the most beautiful little thing around that same vicinity, sent me a postcard this year. The postcard is heart-shaped. Can you feel my pain? It's my bookmark now. Every time I open my book on the metro, on the train, in a café, anywhere, I think of her sending me a heart-shaped postcard. And I smile. And then I think of me actually using the heart-shaped postcard. And I wince.
Enough, I say!