*This post is delivered with most humble apologies to Stephen Fry, whose esteemed chronicles I may or may not be reading at this very juncture. Please partake in visual and brainal enjoyment, if I may be so flib-gibberingly bold as to assume such a pleasant feeling should overcome you in the impending minutes, of the following few words and decide for yourselves whether or not I may have been so influenced by so mellifluously garrulous a scribe.
I LOVE this time of year and not because it’s when senses are assaulted by tinsel, carols, an over-abundance of red, white and green and the sudden appearance of a furry animal sporting a red nose that looks essentially like a horse with antlers.
Nope, my fancy is tickled by much more than mistletoe, wrong-hemisphere worship of snow and enormous, expensive birds that don’t fit in roasting ovens that frankly should be set to “off” on a 38-degree day in downtown, midsummer Australia.
Right now, I am in a different kind of heaven – the one that comes immediately after Heavens One through Six.
It’s Christmas catalogue time.
Merrily they arrive with lip-smacking regularity, deliciously glossy wads of wonder. I literally gasp each time I pull into my driveway and see those delightful letter box protuberances garishly announcing their arrival.
Two for one, they scream. 50% off, Christmas special, today only, cheaper than last year, accessories not included (damn! I really wanted those plastic grapes, empty LA Ice Cola bottles and painted cardboard box cleverly disguised as Kornflakes – a box which no doubt tastes inordinately better than Kornflakes when shredded into bite-size chunks, drowned in cold milk and drizzled with honey. Special, grammatically-challenged K indeed. The best was a recent Aldi catalogue that featured a picture of pork chops, sitting on a grill plate with a tiny piece of parsley in the middle of the meat. “Garnish not included” the catalogue warned with typical German no-nonsenseness. Fraulein, you can keep your superfluous greenery, but what, I wondered, about the grill? I shall let you know how my correspondence to the Advertising Standards Board is received.)
Often, such is their bulk come December, these wondrous Christmas catalogues come rolled up en masse in a tube held in place with a taut rubber band so that, fancifully, you can imagine you are Captain James Cook sailing the high 18th-century seas as you sluck the prized tube of paperwork under your arm and chortle inside to peruse your stash.
Zzzwwwiiickk, you tease and roll the rubber band from its moorings with deliberate and practised patience, all a ploy to prolong the pleasure. Fling, you throw the band to one side and greedily unfurl your bounty, as Cook no doubt did all those years ago with ship’s maps laden with talk of tides, compass points and furlongs.
Instantly you are Chief Quality Control Sorter, ruthlessly relegating the lower-grade and dodgy pamphlets to one side and tidying a neat stack of reading to another.
If it’s printed on daggy (probably environmentally friendly) paper, if it pathetically employs atrociously lazy and bland black and white drawings (Bunnings anyone?) and especially if it has no pretty pictures or too many jagged edges horrendously exposing its cheap mass-producedness – it’s out of there. Slapped angrily onto the crap pile. Honestly, why bother producing such wasted opportunities? How can these people who claim to run legitimate businesses put their names to such rubbish?
High gloss, heavy weight paper, minimal use of comic explosive boxes to illustrate pricing. Yes.
Catalogues that are bound, actually bound, and weighty like a book? Give them the Pulitzer. Golden, special things they are. Myer, I am looking at you.
Catalogues that proclaim themselves to be anointed with such specialness that they come wrapped and protected in their own clear plastic packaging? They hold as much value as the Dead Sea Scrolls – but they are of course infinitely better than those deceased papers. Aesthetically at least, for I have not read the Dead Sea Scrolls, although I hope to rectify that if my Christmas wishes do indeed come true.
And besides, have you seen those scrolls? Neither have I, but frankly, I imagine they look like you’ve given a Bunnings catalogue the pirate treatment (remember in primary school when you’d soak paper in coffee and burn the edges to give it an ancient, pirate’s treasure map look?).
The true higlight of my catalogue reading thus far is from a catalogue of a sort I would not normally read. At least it’s from a section of a catalogue I would not normally read. Apart from those ridiculous catalogues that all of a sudden go upside down half-way through your reading them, forcing you to waste precious life time closing them up, turning them over and starting again, my other pet hate is catalogues that try to cram too much in with no seamless transition.
Harvey Norman, that’s me shouting at you. I know it’s because you are so big you seem to sell basically every human goods requirement on the planet, from televisions, blenders and rugs to pool lounges, vases and double adaptors.
There you are, being swept away as you soak up catalgoue pages of glorious beachside apartments featuring the latest lounge, rug or dining setting and suddenly BAM! you turn the page and it’s boring old mattresses. White, boring, white.
But it was here, by happy accident, that I stumbled across Catalogue-Reading Season 2010 Moment of the Year.
There is, can you believe it, a bed product in existence called Memory Foam.
(I am so enamoured with the enormity of this discovery that I have emboldened its accompanying sentence.)
That right there is the most frightening piece of foam on earth.
Kinda makes me feel like this.
My extensive research tells me Memory Foam was actually created by NASA in 1966 – a good year for polyurethane – and it has only now weevilled its way into the bedding market.
So, what? It is a mattress that remembers your body shape and whatever lumps or bumps it may possess? You can go away, to work say, and come back that night, hours later, and it will inherently know who you are, your every single shape?
It is a synthetic material imbued with a very human ability to remember? Is that right? And if it is so human, so real, does it indeed hurt as its squishy memory is being formed? As millions of overweight Americans sink their enormous super-sized backsides into this Memory Foam foaminess, do these mattresses utter in unison a silent cry of pain, a cry that is sustained for the entire life of the memory, and therefore, the mattress?
The world, I am sure, has now officially gone mad. Next there will be talking carrots, card-playing horses and psychic octopi (vale Paul, vale).
I, as a sensible Australian, choose not to be known or remembered by something as ridiculous as a mattress. It is highly disconcerting.
Instantly, I imagine this famed Memory Foam thusly, in human (kind of) form, as apparently it carries a very human trait. Spooky, if you ask me, but it comes from NASA so spooky is part of the brief.
It looks like this:
“Ahhh, I see you have returned to me at last. I trust your time away from me was devastating? There, there, I’m here now. I remember every last curve of your body as if it was my own – how could I forget? Come now, lie down with me...let’s remember together.”
It speaks like this:
Although the speech is tweaked just a teeny bit so we can actually make out that the English language is being spoken (lo siento, Antonio, but stick to Spanish if you want to be understood).
That is all*.
Thank god they call it the silly season...I’m the number one season pass holder this year.
This smattering of light relief proudly brought to you by Sanity: driving the world crazy with normalness since 1712.