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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

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Christmas shopping in London [20041220|18:17]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
I'm so behind on chronicling my life here. In the past several weeks, I've been to Windsor Castle, a Groove Armada show at Brixton Academy (two thumbs up as a venue), performances of Part I and II of His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, and the Laibach show at the Electric Ballroom (a "meh" at the Electric Ballroom as a venue).

Today, I went Christmas shopping in London for the first time. It was every bit as insane as I expected it to be. I bought a travelcard for the day. I went to Green Park first, home of Fortnum & Mason, the Ritz, and the chocolatier Prestat. F&M has everything priced at approximately triple its value. It's all beautifully packaged, though. At Prestat, on the other hand, you get what you pay for. It is there that you can buy the Napolean truffles mentioned in Roald Dahl's My Uncle Oswald, which is one of his few grown-up novels and is decidedly "adult" in content. I recommend both novel and chocolates.

I walked up Regent Street and stopped in at several of the shops (Molton Brown, Waterstone's). All the women on my gift list are thus accounted for. I had lunch at Selfridges (gee, I'm done, and I don't remember eating) and was stared at by the dyed-blonde orange people. I sipped my peppermint tea and firmly read my book at them. I have no use for orange people. If you are pasty-white, please learn to live with it. Fake tans inevitably turn you into an orange person.

I went back up to Camden, dropped off my loot and went back out to Covent Garden. I utterly failed to locate gifts for all but one of the tech guys that Marco works with. Why is it so difficult to buy gifts for men? I gave up and popped down to Victoria to drop off a gift for capitalflash and sparklepbass and quickly waved hello to a very busy Mary.

And now I'm home, and completely knackered. Someone bring me a cup of tea, please. Please?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: chibaraki
2004-12-20 19:12 (UTC)
I hate buying gifts for men. Especially men I don't know really well. With ones I DO know really well I can usually find SOMETHING for them, but...

Well, with girls whose tastes you don't really know... you can always give them (if you're me) a cute Korean stationary set and some writing implements, or a cute cup and some tea, or silly smelly candles, or similar. But you can't very well give a boy smelly candles. That just wouldn't do. So what DO you get? There ARE no Standard Issue Personality-Irrelevant Gifts for men!

And then you have boys like my brother, whose entire Christmas list is composed of things $20 or more outside my budget. Hmmf.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2004-12-20 19:20 (UTC)
Exactly! The one gift I found was for a guy with whom I've actually had multiple conversations, and the gift referenced back to one of them. I have only the vaguest notion what the others like.

The only Standard Issue Personality-Irrelevant Gift for males that I know of that doesn't suck (pocket knife) or isn't hideously expensive (electronic gizmos) is alcohol. And these guys are mostly past the age where some cheap-ass six-pack of Grolsch will do. They have, like, taste, now.
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[User Picture]From: thefounder
2004-12-21 01:11 (UTC)
i suppose men with taste would command real ale, in theory, but then they might not like it. buying alcohol for men can be tricky because of the fussiness of at least some of them on that front. i suppose you could always surprise someone with a bottle of mead.
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2004-12-21 10:23 (UTC)
Yeah, I know that two of them have very specific tastes. One is Russian and likes vodka, and the other is part Scottish and likes whiskey. I'm terribly afraid of getting them something and having them turn up their noses at it, considering that I know very little about either.

I considered mead (I love it), but the problem is, there are people who love mead and people who loathe the stuff. I don't know how they feel about it.
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[User Picture]From: thefounder
2004-12-21 23:21 (UTC)
yes. very understandable. it's strangely ironic that people with specific or specialised tastes should be the hardest to buy for. i considered getting my girlfriend a pentagram for Yule, but i'd have had absolutely no idea whether i was getting the right type or a type she'd like or anything.

by the way, in case this knowledge is any good to you, i am told that Bladnoch single malt is very good [and rare].
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[User Picture]From: nanila
2004-12-22 10:48 (UTC)
I suppose that's why gift certificates were invented, although with friends, I prefer to give something more personal. It's a tough choice, since I like these guys lots, but have only known them for about two months. :-/

That is very helpful, yes. Going today to the whiskey shop on Gower to have a look around. Thank you!
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