It’s that time of year it seems. As part of my Christmas tidy-up I keep coming across catalogues, the ones which started arriving in August exhorting me to buy my charity cards, remaindered books, thermal clothing, comfortable shoes, special offer wine and of course all those essential stocking fillers, everything a heat-deprived, sore-footed, alcoholic, but kind-hearted Granny might be prepared to part with hard cash for. Actually these invaders of postal privacy thump out of our letter box all the year round, along with the ones which drop out of newspapers and magazines like unseasonal snowfall and are rapidly consigned to the recycling bin. Some of them don’t get that far, landing in odd corners until drifted onto a shelf, or the magazine rack, which is full of magazines we intend to get round to reading sometime, National Trust, English Heritage, RSPB, and sailing journals like The Ancyent Marinere (sorry made that up – no offence to Him Outdoors, Coleridge, or albatrosses).

Anyway I like to do a bit of a clear-out to make way for all the Xmas decorations, candles, wreaths and bric-a-brac which now fill 3 large boxes because we’ve had them for centuries and it’s a shame not to put them out for the grand-kids to admire before they destroy them. This is when I find myself sitting down for a coffee and perusing catalogues. Like everything else it’s hard to throw them away as they might come in useful one day. How else could I have been given that special gold-plated clip last Christmas to hold my table napkin in place on my chest and stop those unfortunate dribbles spoiling my décolletage? This year I looked carefully at the same little collection of indispensible items. I enjoyed again the step-stool which helps your elderly dog climb onto the sofa, and mused about how I could do with something similar when my knees are complaining and I’ve overdone the G & T. I inspected the range of stair-lifts and imagined fitting them with fairy-lights and soft music to soothe the spirits as one ascends gracefully, a Stairlift to Heaven perhaps.

I turned the page and another sub-catalogue fell out, featuring a sultry-looking girl lying invitingly on her stomach. God, she must be cold I thought, not even a thermal napkin on her naked flesh. Alongside was a nearly perpendicular spray-can containing… Well something which might also transport you to heaven – for both men and women apparently. Only ten quid a go and works every time so you can indulge your fantasies many times a night, or afternoon anyway: that’s if your knees and other body parts are up to it of course. I found myself thinking it would be cheaper to use car de-icer spray, or just go to bed with a cup of Ovaltine and a good (remaindered) book.

Both catalogues have now joined the others in the bin but I keep wondering about that little doggie step-stool. Perhaps it would help with getting onto the bed now we have a super-comfy extra-high mattress replacing our old sagging backache-inducing one. Better still do they make some kind of stair-lift for two? I can’t wait to open my Christmas stocking. I could certainly do with another car de-icer spray now it’s getting colder.