I’ve been planning to write something mildly withering about Notonthehightstreet.com for a while. It’s not because I don’t like it – if you’re after a thoughtful present for someone that isn’t a book or some gin, it does a great job. It’s just that about 95 per cent of the things on there can be personalised.
From silver spoons that read “Sue to a Tea” and framed prints listing everything that Lizzie likes, to wooden trains with letters for carriages (bad luck if you’re buying for Constantine rather than Stan) and silver charms engraved with nicknames and fingerprints (great! Just the thing to remind you of a crime scene), you can lard a name on to almost anything.
It’s always struck me as horribly twee, and bloody annoying if you want to regift. Yes, I know the point of receiving presents isn’t to give them away, but show me someone who’s never done it and I’ll show you someone with a much smaller overdraft than mine. If you’re unlucky, as a colleague was last week, the person doing the personalising won’t be that hot on spelling and you’ll end up with a colouring book for Pheobe.
And yet... Being given something with your name on it does press certain buttons. I was once sent a pack of high-end, personalised note cards that I use while pretending to be far posher than I really am. They had a small influence, along with sloth, in my keeping my maiden name after I married. In the last week I’ve been sent a bottle of wine with not just my name and my picture on it (swiped from Twitter), but a reference to cats courtesy of Snapajack.com, as well a pack of Top Trumps to promote the latest Football Manager video game which features me as one of the cards. It’s hard not to be won over when your own fat head, as well as those of your gaming journalist mates, are peering out at you. Still, the best personalised thing I’ve come across was the package addressed to my cat, Badger, containing two Super Mario hats for him inside.
So, personalised-present purveyors, I apologise for my past churlishness. I love the sound of my own name as much as everyone else, and that of my cat even more.