Everyone knows that the best birthday and Christmas presents are ones that speak to a person’s interests and values, because they show you’ve at least put some thought into the matter instead of just plumping for the latest Top Cat shot-glass.
It’s easy with kids, where you can simply pinpoint their latest craze (Lego, Manchester United, tiddlywinks) and buy them virtually anything to do with those categories. Things are a little tougher for us grown-ups whose core ‘interests’, as measured by amount of time spent, often seem to revolve around the commute to work and unblocking the storage room toilet.
When people do have obvious hobbies, the likelihood is that they know a lot more about it than you, and therefore your attempts to impress with a copy of the ‘Titchmarsh Annual 2013’ risk shooting wider than an England quarter-final penalty kick.
A person’s politics, on the face of things, offers a golden opportunity to get someone a gift that is both useful and fits their values. Yet before the Radical Tea Towel Company came along, the choice was surprisingly limited. Books were by far the most common solution – but there’s only so many times one can read a biography of Jeffrey Archer.
It’s Christmas, so here’s a list of potential political gifts for leftwingers and liberals:
1. Trade union badges – great one for collectors, you can find loads on eBay.
2. Radical mugs – often produced to mark special events such as strikes or general elections. Radicalteatowel.com has a collection dedicated to radicals through the ages.
3. Books – there’s a number of brilliant independent bookshops around the UK stocking an amazing collection of socialist biographies, pamphlets and commentary. Here are the ones we’re most familiar with:
Bookmarks Bookshop (Soho, London)
Housmans (King’s Cross, London)
Calton Books (Glasgow)
Five Leaves (Nottingham)
People’s Bookshop (Durham)
Siop Y Ganolfan – Welsh language (Merthyr Tudful)
4. You can always go for a conventional gift like bag without a particular theme, but from a shop with a rock solid ethical policy like www.ganesha.co.uk
5. Adorn the entire kitchen with fridge magnets like these.
6. Aside from offering a fascinating tour through the history of the struggle for democracy and workers’ rights, Manchester’s People’s History Museum has a gift shop full of books, posters, retro homeware and stationary, often with a radical twist.
7. The William Morris Society has a shop inspired by the work of the late 19th century designer and radical, including publications, mugs, textiles and postcards.
What other political gift ideas do you think we should stock at the Radical Tea Towel Company?