With Christmas rushing at us like a bull in a Westfield, many blokes of a certain age will have already been told ‘you’re difficult to buy for’. On Christmas Day, while everyone else stacks a nice little pile of desirable things, you often end up the proud owner of some new socks and a 600ml bottle of Peroni (which you aren’t even allowed to drink immediately to numb the disappointment).
‘You’re difficult to buy for’ sails dangerously close to what modern progressives might call ‘victim blaming’. The truth is the present buyer could have given it more thought. They might have looked at what you bought for yourself throughout the year. I imagine you rarely see your husband or dad buy a comedy hip-flask or Gillette shower kit. If he’s never brought if for himself your gift might not be the home run you thought it was.
Most blokes withstand mediocre presents cheerfully enough. Men can take pleasure in ‘minimising’ themselves for the greater good. There exists a manly nobility in taking one for the team. I recently stayed at the Knutsford service station Travelodge. It’s the kind of revelation that usually provokes a tilt of the head from someone, or the private conclusion my career isn’t going as well as they’d previously thought. However, I was happy enough. Partly because of the money I’d saved by not staying in Manchester city centre. Also, with bad weather around at that time, and the comprehensive amenities on offer at the services, if I was snowed in I could’ve happily lived out my days there – a bit like Tom Hanks in The Terminal – or if things got really desperate Tom Hanks in Castaway.
I’m happy to deprive myself of things for the family’s greater financial good, so much so that any signs of being emotionally demonstrative can represent a radical act of sedition.