Man Bag threat to endangered masculinity
FRIDAY: I had just walked in from work and whistled for a Budweiser to hop its way from the fridge into my arms when the good woman told me, smugly, that she knows what she is going to get me for Christmas.
'Why do you have your lunch and your books in a freezer bag?' she asked, pointedly. I hadn't realised that what I was carrying was a freezer bag.
'Did the foiled lining and the fact it says "I like cool food" on the side of it not give it away?' she queried. I admitted that I hadn't paid much attention to what type of bag it was. Once it carried what it needed to, I was happy enough.
That's when she told me I'm getting a Man Bag for Christmas. For the following second or two, the world seemed to stand still, as the life of my masculinity flashed before my eyes.
I mentioned that the last time I saw a Man Bag was when Joey from Friends decided to get one, and that was on a comedy show, which was intended to produce laughter. I told her I needed to see examples of what she had in mind before I could commit. If it was along the Indiana Jones-style then my masculinity may not be endangered after all – she told me that white plastic bags have been insidiously chipping away at that for years. I have two weeks in which to change her mind.
Later I started thinking about Christmas presents and what to get for the nearest and dearest. And I kept coming back to books. This year is a particularly good year for good reads and the following is a sample of the titles that I would recommend to anyone thinking of stirring the family's literary interest...
For the gambler: Kevin Blake, the Irish Field columnist and weekly tipster has published an account of his gambling success which he logged over the 2013 Flat season in Ireland. 'It Can Be Done' is a practical approach by a serious gambler to backing horses and he shares the secrets of his windfall (the title of the book suggests he didn't lose his shirt) and it is an ideal read for anyone who takes having a flutter very seriously. It's short enough that they will have it read in a day or two over the holidays, in time to put his theory into practice for the Leopardstown meeting.
For the thrillseeker: Harry Hole, Jack Reacher, Charlie Parker...there is no end to page-turner action-packed thrillers on the book shelves this Christmas.
My recommendation would be is that if you have already read Jo Nesbo's The Snowman, and liked it, then Police is the latest offering from the Scandinavian author, and the perfect fireside read. AP McCoy has also penned a racing thriller which has steamy bedroom, and snooker table, scenes, that will leave you wondering what jockeys really get up to when not in the saddle.
For the laugh: For a light-hearted approach to the often devastating subject of testicular cancer, Roddy Doyle's The Guts is a tonic for fans of the author of The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van. It picks up the story of Jimmy Rabbitte in his late 40s and his battle with the illness. Expect lots of chuckles.
For the traditionalist: Foster & Allen, After All These Years, is for fans of the Country & Irish scene. The popular musicians look back on a lifetime on the road together, the successes and the struggles, and will charm readers with their tales.
For the women: Helen Fielding's latest instalment in the Bridget Jones saga, I'm told, is what a lot of women want to find in their Santa stocking this year.
For the kids: Mr Stink. Demon Dentist. Gangsta Granny. Britain's Got Talent judge David Walliams is the 'in thing' with pre-teens this year and he has a number of books from which to choose. All good.
And finally, a CD. If you are looking for some festive music to get the household in the Christmas mood as you stuff the turkey and fondle the sprouts, then the Irish international smash-hit group Celtic Thunder's 'Christmas Voices' is highly recommended. From 'In the Bleak Midwinter' to 'O Holy Night' it is a very pleasant musical experience for the ears.