I haven’t even thought about, let alone done, my Christmas shopping yet. Perhaps I’ll get some ideas from The World’s Most Expensive Presents (Channel 4). Well, it has been a reasonably good year. I’ve floated a couple of little interests, moved some stuff offshore, I won’t go into details … know what I mean?
So, how about an adult colouring book (as in for adults, not DIY pornography) with 10 bespoke illustrations by a renowned artist and a leather cover with gold lettering. That’s £23,900, VAT included; colouring pencils not. But it goes way beyond a colouring book, says Marcel, the man whose idea it was. “It’s a tapestry of emotions, it’s memory after memory after memory. It’s an heirloom.”
How he can say it’s an heirloom when it hasn’t even been owned by anyone yet? And it’s very clearly not a tapestry. They do talk a lot of guff, these people. Marcel has also developed a shoe with secret compartments for miniature mobile phones and penknives. They’re just two grand a pair … good luck at airport security, though.
In Dubai, a man called Laban has a business that turns things gold. Phones, tablets, roses, cigars, cars … anything. Using electricity and his special magic solution, Laban will plate them in gold. He’s an actual 21st-century alchemist. He would probably do your genitals if you paid him enough. (I’m thinking about the in-laws; if not for Christmas then perhaps for the golden wedding anniversary.)
Right now, he has a gold bicycle – yours for £250,000. “It’s a piece of art, but it’s also a practical bike that can be ridden and you can use it to go to your local shop and pick up some eggs.”
But is it though, Laban? Art? Or practical for an egg run?
In Essex, Elliot, who specialises in luxury games, is making a poker set that comes in a case made out of dead alligators and whose chips are covered in stingray skin. That one’s £60,000, but Elliot won’t say who it’s for – I’m thinking Paul Hogan, perhaps.
In Brighton, a woman called Rachel has spent 900 hours using six metres of silk and 40,000 crystals to make a ballgown for a dog. Forty grand for that. And somewhere else, Debbie says: “I’m kind of known for creating a platform to give something in an edible formation.”
Whatever can you mean, Debbie? Oh, I see (sort of). She makes cakes in the shape of things – favourite handbags, shoes, trainers, money etc … It’s art, she says. You can make something into art just by turning it gold, putting crystals on it or making a cake look like something else; I wonder if our art critic Jonathan Jones would agree.
Art or not, it’s not only pointless and immoral, it’s all really horrid. There’s not a single thing here I would want to be given so I won’t be giving any of it to anyone else. I’ll be Christmas shopping at Argos this year, as usual.
What will Giles Coren’s wife make of his film Passions: I Hate Jane Austen (Sky Arts)? He explains to the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan how he and Mrs C ended up together: “I just had lots of girlfriends and then eventually [looks at watch], I was getting on a bit … do you want to marry me, yeah alright, and we’ll have a kid …”
The point he’s making is a good one: things were different 200 years ago. But still, it might be a bit harsh for Mrs C to learn from the telly that she wasn’t so much the One as the One Who Happened to Be Around at the Time Giles Decided to Procreate.
Still, this is the man who fat-shamed his own son in print; it’s hardly surprising he’s prepared to un-One his wife on the telly. Were there lots and lots of girlfriends, Giles?
The worst thing about this programme for me was that I found myself agreeing with him. I hate Jane Austen, too, for exactly the same reason Giles does: her petty concerns, lack of modern relevance, narrow worldview, the fact they’re all the same … and now I hate myself, for agreeing with Giles, who I hate, too, obviously.
Anyway, Giles goes to see a lot of brainy people who explain that he is quite wrong. And why: the craft, the dialogue, the jokes, the understanding of what it means to be human, the role Austen played in the development of the novel and so on.
Joanna Trollope is especially withering. “Do you know what sensibility is?” she asks Giles. Oh, go on, wallop him.
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