A couple of weeks back, our Dear Leader Blam sent round an email asking the team what we wanted for Christmas. So I thought. And I thought. And all I could come up with was this:
• A new sofa cover
• A cute, copper-colored snakeskin clutch—that's a handbag, not something found on a car—by Luella
• A pile of new books (or just an Amazon gift certificate, actually)
• Some fabulously sexy piece of art to hang on the wall
ZOMG—no gadgets!?!!?? came Blam's astonished reply. Feckity feck, I muttered, my secret is out. So I backpedalled:
Well, I typed, at a push I'd like an iPod classic, because my old 60GB, video-free version is a bit rickety, but it does still work, so I think I'll wait until the sad, dead-iPod face appears on the screen. And my other half, Jesus, has been tempting me with the iPhone (like any of you are surprised). He is right; I do need a new phone as my horrible Motorola currently has a battery life of around 10 minutes and I HATE IT, I REALLY HATE IT, but since the iPhone hasn't got 3G, I thought I'd wait until Mk 2 comes out. But apart from that? Nope, nothing.
My gadgets are as follows: one sickly iPod; one MacBook; one shitty original Motorola RAZR that I will feed to the gadget-eating unicorns once I can be bothered to get a new phone. We've also got a TomTom for the car, but I lost the charger for it, so that's that, and, truth be told, we don't need it because I'm pretty damn good at map-reading.
Gadgets are my job. I write about this stuff from morning to night, so when it comes to going-home time, I'm pretty happy to close my laptop and start on a book. And no, before you suggest a Kindle, I love books. I like them stacked up dustily in my house, I like making them dog-eared and sticky-paged and taking them places. And another confession: I am the clumsiest git in the world, so an iPhone/Kindle/Thanko USB Trouserpress will probably suffer a bathwater-electronics interface in the first week.
Just because I don't want a gadget for Christmas doesn't necessarily mean that I begrudge everyone else their bundles of bytes and pixels. My husband is of course crazy about stuff like this, hence the iPhone, the brand new iMac that we don't really have room for, the Nintendo DS—all three of them, actually—and the remote-controlled Mario Kart that drives the mutt nuts when we play with it. Both my father-in-law and my brother have gone crazy over the iPhone, my bro changing his service provider in order to get his hands on one, the f-i-l sending someone over to NY to pick one up for him to use in Spain.
Nevertheless, Blam's question bugged me for several days, until I remembered one stand-out Christmas present from my childhood, when I was eight or so.
My parents weren't quite altruistic enough to buy me a drum kit I'd asked for, but they did buy me a cheapo cassette player. Not some fabulous ghetto blaster that I could strut around the bad-ass farm track at home with, like Radio Rakeem, but a tiny little mono version, and three tapes: The Jungle Book; and The Young Person's Guide(s) to Mozart and Beethoven which, when I think about it, must have honed my obsession with '70s disco, funk, Chicago House and the Sugarhill Gang.
Crap tapes aside, I hearted my tape player. I hearted it with everything I had. I took it to school to show off in the playground, duly getting it confiscated for a week—no more Baloo for you, you wicked girl—and it remained the closest thing to heaven. I can't even remember what brand it was, probably something uber-shonk, like Alba, or Crown. But I loved it. I customized it with my sister's carmine nail polish, stuck cute Japanese stickers on it, and graffiti'd the sides in gold pen that made me high when I got too close to the nib. Until one fateful day three years later, when I snapped off the red record button while singing à la Siouxie Sioux into the mic.
So, I'm sorry, dear Gizmodo readers, who imagine their perky AM gadget reporter to be as plugged in as the Borg Queen herself. The truth is, a quarter-century on, I can't think of anything made of metal, plastic and silicon which lights up, bleeps, or goes "Pew Pew," which will bring me anywhere near to the joy of Christmas back then, and that dear, beautiful ultra-cheap cassette deck.