Friday, 22 October 2010


I wish I'd had some sort of payment for the many years of my life I've frittered away with my head stuck in the back of comics reading the Ellisdon's advertisement for jokes and novelties.

From the Seebackroscope to the range of Indoor Fireworks, I knew those adverts in such intricate detail that today I would have been carted off to some sort of Special Needs facility for Too-Much-Attention-Disorder or something.
As I reached Adulthood this strange fetish for mail-order jokes and novelties moved on to the "Innovations Catalogue". This little gem fell out of every periodical on the News Stand throughout the last quarter of the 20th Century with its seductive offerings of devices to recharge ordinary batteries (without them exploding!!), ABS Busters and electrically powered envelope openers. This wonderful publication synthesised everything that was desirable about the K-Tel range of Televised Products and added one-size-fits-all Galoshes and mini was crack-cocaine as far as I was concerned.

I was mortified when in 2003 this feast of fun was abruptly discontinued citing lack of interest. Had I not ordered enough plastic spider catchers? What was I to do with all the plastic spiders now? I was bereft.

Until now, readers!

I've just opened my trial-subscription-for-The-Oldie-which-I've-already-cancelled-because-it's-full-of-stuff-for-old-people when what should fall out but ....PFM!!! It stands for "Presents for Men" and looks like this:

It turns out to be Innovations for the 21st Century! Now I can browse for ages and find magnificent new products and novelties and high-tech gadgets! What about this ball with a picture of teeth on it that you can throw and then laugh at your dog when he returns with it in his mouth? (Oz has been in touch with DogLine about this):

Or a USB Shaver for just £14.95?
And here's a handy "Travel Buddy" which looks as though it was designed by Stuart Baggs and Team Synergy on the Apprentice. Imagine being able to carry your mobile, MP3 Player, Keys and Wallet all in one Mugger Friendly lift-off belt?

Anyway you can relax Girls, I believe there is an opposite gender version available full of lipstick and girlie rubbish. You can check it all out for yourself here.


Sarah said...

I particularly like the china eco cup...with no handle and silicone practical AND eco!

Dave said...

I like the look of the space rug that makes you look like Obi One Kenobi.

Rog said...

Sarah: I think it's more suitable for ecomaniacs. You and Dave both commented at 12:44 - is he sharing your laptop?

Dave: I've taken the precaution of already looking like Obi One Kenobi so I don't need a space rug.

brokenbiro said...

I love Presents for Men!

Do you remember the old Ronco catalogues which were also full of handy gadgets? How can we live without solar-powered umbrellas, fleece Wellington boot covers, a door mat in the shape of your partner’s face, a piggy bank in the shape of a toaster, a toaster in the shape of a piggy bank, scratch and sniff wind chimes for the deaf?

Dave said...

If we were sharing a laptop we couldn't both comment at the same time could we?

Richard said...

There was an Innovations shop in Ashford, Rog. I think my dad lived in there for a while.

Christopher said...

Nothing in this line could ever aspire to the hallowed magic of the Ellisdon's catalogue. O for a Nail-thru-Finger the better to squeeze the Magic Plate Lifter. Thank you, Rog, for this glimpse of a better world.

Rog said...

Ms Biro: Ronco were the Lidl to K-Te's Aldi weren't they? I think you mae up the scratch-and-sniff wind chimes. In which case, get down to a Patent Agent tout suite!

Dave: Good point well made.

Richard: I didn't know they had shops! Mind you seeing it all laid out would ruin the mental magic - Hawin's Bazaar shops are just a pile of tat but their catalogue was a book of dreams.

Christopher: I'm pleased I'm not the only person in the World on this! They had a miniature bible and a "naughty doggie" and other curious juxtapositions. Starngely there is no reproduced Ellisdons ad on the Interwebs as far as I can find. I went up to High Holborn once but like Hawkins, it was shining light on magic.

Roses said...

I was permanently put off adverts in comics when I got my Sea Monkeys kit.

Brine shrimp look nothing like the pictures and are less exciting than slugs.

Richard said...

There's some stuff on Ellisdon's on one of the Magic Circle forums, I was reading it yesterday trying to find the name of the joke shop that used to be opposite the entrance to the British Museum. That wasn't Ellisdon's was it? High Holborn is too far back, surely, I seem to remember going into this place while actually queueing to get into the museum.

You're right about the Hawkins' shops. We have one here at Christmas aand although it's got some fun things in, it's not a patch on the catalogue, which I used to get sent every year. There used to be a good joke shop off the Burgate in Canterbury.

Z said...

My children and I used to spend many happy hours picking presents for each other from these catalogues. We never actually bought them, of course (which might just mean that we played our part in the demise of Innovations too). We also liked the catalogues aimed at older people, filled with useful warm fleecy sockettes and incontinence disguisers.

When I say "my children", we all carried on doing this well into their adulthood, of course.

Zig said...

who would want to buy a present for a man?

Madame DeFarge said...

Oh no. I see a long and happy future for M. DeFarge here. I must keep him away from this evil. It's the only way.

Macy said...

Rog - I dare you to buy that smiley ball.... then cycle through Norfolk with it clamped firmly between your teeth.
Yes. That Is A Dare

Roses said...'ve made me laugh.

Yes, Rog, I dare you too. We want pictures.

Rog said...

Roses: Sea monkeys. Ah yes!

Richard: I remember the one opposite the BM. It's a gift shop now full of post boxes and beefeaters.

Z: That's just how it should be! And an excellent way of reducing household budgets.

Zig: You are such an ungrateful witch.

MDF: A chap needs a hobby.

Macy & Roses: Just watch this space. That's all I'm saying.