OK, bear with me here… I have two really conflicting themes going on in my head right now.

The original plan was to discuss some of the great Christmas presents I’ve got over the years, and their importance or significance throughout my formative years.

But then… well, I went and shaved my beard into a Hitler moustache.

I like to think of it as a 'funky Hitler' moustache. Love the side-parting too.

So… a little bit of a dilemma, as you can imagine, me being a Jew and all. Then, to make things even more confusing, it was Hanukkah (the Jew-Christmassy thing) AND… I watched Inglourious Basterds last night.

It’s all a bit, you know, CONFUSING. I guess this is as close to a bona fide identity crisis as one can get — and not really the kind of internal conflict you want to go through, you know? I used to think I was about as far removed as possible from the Fuhrer… but then I wrote that manifesto for my galaxy-spanning empire last week… and now the moustache…

And you know the worst thing? THE MOUSTACHE LOOKS GOOD! What the… scheiße?

I have dimples that I didn’t even know about. I look about 10 years younger. It gives some filter-fed morsels to snack on when the munchies kick in around midnight. Seriously, what’s not to like?

Here's a bit of weird cross textuality -- Hitler + Churchill! Peace, man.

I don’t know why I’m doing the peace sign. It just… came to me…

Seriously, I keep looking in the mirror and smiling. Bursting out into random displays of cheerfulness. Wait, now I sound like the Hitler from The Producers

Oh, yeah, I kept the chin puff too, just in case people took offence to the ‘Hitler moustache’, I could pass it off as just some experiment gone wrong — I’ve been referring to it as the ‘funky Hitler’ on Facebook, but I don’t know if that name will stick. It probably will, knowing my luck.


I should probably dedicate some of this post to actual Christmas-related stuff, huh. OK.

Notable Christmas presents from the past quarter-century

I might get the year wrong on some of these gifts, but I’m sure my mother will pop up and make any necessary corrections. She’s an elephant like that.

Age 6 — Christmas 1990

The present that changed it all: The Nintendo Entertainment System… and Turtles! The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (or ‘hero’ in the UK, because ‘ninja’ was too violent, apparently) were the first crush/infatuation that I can recall having. It was exacerbated by the fact that my cousin’s dad knew the creator Kevin Eastman — we got given a lot of free stuff… toys, stuffed dolls, etc. It’s safe to say, when I finally got a NES (it had been out for five years!) and the Turtles game, that this was the beginning of something big.

I still have all four of the stuffed toys — Leonardo, Raphael, Michelangelo and Donatello — in my cupboard. I have a lot of stuffed toys in my cupboard actually… not many people know that. They’re probably worth quite a lot now.

Age 10 – Christmas 1994

I remember this one so, so fondly, perhaps more so than any other gift, including the mass of PCs that would follow in proceeding years: a chemistry set. This was back when ‘health and safety’ was much, much less of an issue — it didn’t really exist, thinking about it. Some of the phials had skulls on, but that was about as far as warnings went with these chemistry sets (I received a few of them over the years — I guess they were quite expensive as I only ever got them for Christmas or birthdays).

Now, I recall igniting many of these mixtures… but I have no idea how. I must’ve had some kind of Bunsen burner, but they need natural gas… which I’m sure I didn’t have a cannister of in my bedroom. But, anyway, there were many explosions and close-calls with concoctions-gone-wrong ending up in my eyes and nose and mouth and… well, those chemicals got everywhere. I think we famously got some nasty stuff in the eyes of my friend, and we thought he was going to lose his eye — but that was just my mum being dramatic. You can hardly see the scar now.

Blowing things up was a love of mine that would continue into my high school years. They had to evacuate my school on numerous occasions, all thanks to that chemistry kit I was given one fateful Christmas eve — thanks, mum.

Age 11 (and up) — Christmas 1995… and beyond!

Now we enter the Age of Computers. After the Nintendo, I didn’t actually have another games console until the N64 in 1998 (and I bought it with my own money!) — it was all personal computers. The first one was a monochrome Olivetti 8086, which I think was an Olivetti M24 but it might’ve been something more contemporary. I’d already played with a lot of the early IBM/Amstrad PCs at my dad’s workplace, so this was more… a continuance of my nascent and quickly-developing computer nerdiness. My parents have always encouraged my outreaches — I hope I can do the same for my progeny.

Around this time we also had a ZX Spectrum (via my adopted brother). I programmed that first, and then later the Olivetti and many, many Amstrads (QBASIC!) I played surprisingly few games on my early PCs — it was more exploration, investigation, taking-apart-and-putting-back-together-again. Educational!

I don’t recall getting anything else of note in the following years, other than more computers. Nowadays I just get socks. Back then, it wasn’t unusual to get both a computer for Christmas, and for my birthday five months later.

There was a BMX bike at one stage, but I never really got into that. There were a couple of Scalextric sets actually, which my mother will probably tell you inspired my love of cars — but I think it’s the other way around: I love cars, thus I loved Scalextric. I was never very good at driving those cars around the track, truth be told. But I still long to be a rally driver.

* * *

And now I go to photograph the Geminid meteor shower, so the next you’ll see of me is Tuesday morning! If my fingers haven’t frozen off!

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I am a tall, hairy, British writer who blogs about technology, photography, travel, and whatever else catches my eye.