Head to the high street for a festive horror show
There is both horror and pleasure to strolling around the country’s biggest department stores at Christmastime. The average high street might be struggling, but the likes of Selfridges and Fortnum’s are booming. One way they lure you in is with the grotesque insanity of the window displays. This year Selfridges features Father Christmases in all manner of tight, Bowie-esque, sequined outfits, writhing over an electric guitar.
Inside, there’s an exquisite barrage of perfumes, thousandpound silk slips and chocolate figurines. But it’s the Christmas section that really outdoes itself.
There’s all sorts of “very British” tat – teabags decorated with Royal family members and pens shaped like soldiers – all of which can be had cheaper online. Then there’s the really weird stuff.
First, there’s an 8ft stuffed dinosaur (species unclear). The centrepiece of the girls’ section is an enormous, soft-toy, winged unicorn, roughly life-size (if that applies to unicorns) but oddly hideous, featuring abnormally deep, grey nostrils, a weird cuff of shoulder wrinkles and a horribly hunched back. Any little girl’s dream, it’s a snip at £3,600.
That’s thrown into shade, though, by the massive, singing reindeer. The creature comes to a jerky, disjointed sort of life at the touch of a button, upon which it begins to swing its big head back and forth while Silent Night plays. I think it’s meant to be approximating singing, but the mouth movements are random and the voice is that of a large choir.
And what can you expect to pay for this creative, avant-garde Christmas masterpiece? The flapping plastic label on its forehead proclaims the price to be £11,500.
In case anyone is worried about the Irish border in the Brexit debate, Brexiteer Tory Owen Paterson was on hand to dispel anxiety late during the debate on Tuesday night. “People have this ludicrous idea of borders – that we have a man in a tricorn hat stopping the stagecoach with a ladle and testing the brandy,” he declared, adding, for clarity’s sake: “That does not happen.”
I’m not sure who the “people” are to whom Mr Paterson’s been talking, but I would like to obtain the use of a time machine to meet them. The brandy and tricorn hat sound rather charming: far better than the bore of electronic customs forms, trade reporting systems and risk-weighted regulatory checks. A modern container ship isn’t half so picturesque as a stagecoach.
Rock bottom? Selfridges’ windows feature Santa writhing over a guitar