Iain Gray Freelance Writer

How to stretch a festive fiver

Chelsea’s well-paid footballers limited themselves to buying £5 gifts for each other at the club’s Christmas party. Here, Iain Gray takes up the challenge and does the same

Not only am I cheap, but I am also lazy, so I decided to do my Chelsea challenge entirely on the internet. I avoided the panicking crowds, miserable weather and over-eager sales people, and am now free to luxuriate in sloth and parsimony.

My parents came first. After their dog, Bruno, died in March, my father put his foot down and announced to my mother there would be no more animals for at least a year. Naturally, she didn’t listen to a word of this and eight days later he was looking into the doleful eyes of Maggie, a border collie in desperate need of a home.

Unfortunately, Maggie had never quite grasped the concept of “going outside”, and provided my father with an unwelcome present every morning. My mother blamed Maggie’s traumatic upbringing; my father declared she just wasn’t very intelligent. To settle the argument, I bought them How Smart Is Your Dog? (£4.99; www.iwantoneofthose.com), an IQ test for mentally challenged mutts. It comes with a free stopwatch and consists of tasks that any dog will enjoy, whether it is a Lassie or a Goofy.

While on the site, I also found a natty little gadget that seemed custom-built for Dan, a regularly merry friend of mine. Many is the night he stumbles home filled with the dual joys of camaraderie and Newcastle Brown Ale, and finds himself incapable of slotting his key into his front-door lock. This is completely due, of course, to the lack of an outside light at his house. Now, thanks to the Locklite Mini Key Torch (£3.99; www.iwantoneofthose.com), an ingenious device that fits a tiny light on to any standard key, he has all the illumination he needs, and his neighbours can get the peaceful rest they deserve.

On to my girlfriend. She has a stressful job involving long hours in front of a computer screen, so she will invariably return home with a stiff neck and tight shoulders, and want me to massage away the tensions of her day. Being a sensitive, 21st-century man, I know that repeated massages could give me RSI, so I have invested in a USB Massager (£4.99; www.gadgets.co.uk). Just plug it into the USB port of your computer and away you go – instant relief at your workstation.

Like many men hurtling towards a midlife crisis, I often need to convince myself that I can still “hang wiv da kids”. So, in an attempt to relive my own youth, I have bought my best friend’s children Mr Benn: The Complete Series (£4.97; amazon.co.uk), which contains all 14 episodes of the iconic 1970s children’s cartoon. Surely my friend will be happier than when I bought his son a secondhand drum kit.


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