For the men in my life? A list…

It’s a week to go before the turkey goes into the Aga and a week before CC#3, for the first time, will find some spot cream in his stocking. But it is also a week before Mr M shows how perfect he is by buying me a Christmas present that is something that a) I want and love and b) I didn’t ask for. I can live in hope, after all.

I know I say this every year but men really are bad at buying presents, aren’t they? A present that I have asked for is not nearly as nice as one that Mr M has thought about, noticed that I would like and gone out of his way to acquire.

Aside from that, of course, we are in challenging economic times, so CCs#1, #2 and #3 will all be on the lookout for cost-effective presents.

CC#1, still cooking his way through life after his stint at Orchards Cookery School (he says he has put on half a stone this term), could make dinner one evening or bake me a cake.

CC#2 could put a load of music from his collection on to my iPod and then wrap it up and give it back to me. And CC#3 could write me a poem, preferably one not about anything military.

There cannot be many other 13-year-old boys who were as thrilled as he was recently to be taken for a birthday treat to the British Military Tournament. We attended the same night as HM the Queen, who I swear I saw take part in a Mexican wave. Not bad for 85.

But then I presume that she is possibly not exhausted with Christmas preparations. For even the most organised of us will always face unexpected challenges that send our plans awry.

My Fund Management Girlfriend has a senior job and many children and decided that the only way to get through her present-buying list was to set her alarm for 4am and do it then. She piled things into her online trolley and was congratulating herself with the thought that with two more early starts like this she would have everything done. Then she went to pay and found her credit card refused. She had to wait until the bank’s customer information opened to find out why. Sorry madam, they said, it was a precautionary measure: we assumed it had been stolen, because someone appeared to be using it in the middle of the night …

So what am I hoping for from my perfect man? An iPad, for a start – my mother-in-law, who is closer to 80 than 70, has one, and she is coming on a state visit in January – it will be very embarrassing if I am not up to speed by then. As usual, I seem to be the last person on the planet to adopt new technology.

Then, perhaps even more importantly, something to keep it in, preferably from Asprey. This could be the budget option, a calf leather sleeve for £150, moving up through the £400 proper fold-back cover (if Mr M goes for this, then in indigo, please) and, if he really wants to splash out, I am not averse to a sleeve in alligator (in slate) with purple lining at £2,950. There! Could anyone need more direction?

And for my stocking I would welcome a cookery-book holder and Robert Harris’s newish novel The Fear Index (the wife in which is based on my friend Absent Angela).

And what am I going to buy Mr M? He has been reading a lot of books about the second world war recently, following his half-term expedition to the Normandy beaches with CC#3. This makes a change from books about cricket (currently by his bedside is Nigel Chapman’s Bowled Over… and Out! which I admit even I enjoyed) and Australian Rules football.

And what is by my side of the bed? David Waller’s biography of the hugely famous Victorian strongman Eugen Sandow – it’s a fascinating look at celebrity culture of the period. No mention is made of what he bought his wife for Christmas, which is a shame. Because the title of the book is The Perfect Man.

mrsmoneypenny@ft.com

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