Rhiannon Harries: Drug testing lip gloss – the perfect Xmas gift

Urban Notebook

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Party season is here, and with it the usual surfeit of boozy events routinely culminating in a drunken stumble home. Few of us want to dampen the festive cheer by dwelling on the dangers, but the sheer amount of alcohol washing around makes impaired judgment the norm at this time of year. Who hasn't jumped in a dodgy minicab on a freezing night, for instance, or accepted a drink from a stranger because everyone seems a lot nicer when there are lots of twinkly lights around and "Fairytale of New York" is playing in the background?

Lucky, then, that a few kindly marketing teams want to take better care of us. The people behind Ila Dusk, a personal alarm aimed at women, are pushing it as the "perfect Christmas gift for a loved one". It comes in a variety of hues, which is important because everyone knows the reason most women don't carry a rape alarm is because they can't find one to match their shoes. But although it's impossible to fault the intention, I'm not convinced that the automatic association with horrific scenarios in dark alleys won't flatten the mood around the Christmas tree.

Also jumping on the personal-safety-can-be-fun bandwagon is LoveMyLips lipgloss, left, which comes with a handy drugs testing kit for checking your eggnog hasn't been spiked with rohypnol. Or it would be were it not for the fact that it doesn't work in anything containing milk, tonic or certain fruit juices, and rohypnol isn't one of the drugs it detects.

I wasn't convinced until a dubious conceit at the other end of the festive marketing spectrum gave me pause. A current ad offering last-minute deals on London hotels shows an attractive, slightly razzled-looking woman clutching a gormless bloke's tie at an office party as he gives us a triumphant thumbs up. Yikes. Maybe there is a case for an integrated lipgloss and drugs testing kit after all.

Christmas jumpers are back

December is not a high point in the fashion calendar. In fact, it's a time when lots of us start competing with our tinsel-strewn surroundings, sartorially speaking. But one seasonal style faux pas is having a renaissance. The much-maligned Christmas jumper has been popping up on many a trendy frame, with Fair Isle designs involving snowflakes and reindeer seemingly order of the day. I assume aged aunts will hit upon a different default gift this year, so don't stop practising your fake smile yet.

Leona: a force for democracy

As a resident of Hackney, east London, I am naturally immeasurably proud of local girl Leona Lewis' X Factor win and chart success. But the local council's attempts to explain everything through the medium of Leona are starting to grate. Most recently, posters urge us to register to vote to "get the X-factor". Leona as an argument for democracy? If only Plato had known!

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