CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Sue Limb: Problematic Presents

PUBLISHED: 13:04 31 January 2010 | UPDATED: 16:24 20 February 2013

A phone in the form of a flashing nun and a tea cosy shaped like a baboon - but Sue Limb still can't bear to cart them off to the charity shop!

Presents always make me tense. I have a lifelong friend whose taste in gifts verges on the hallucinatory. I dont like to seem ungrateful, but over the years shes given me a phone in the form of a flashing nun, a tea cosy shaped like a baboon, and a stone painted with a face which reminded me uneasily of Idi Amin. (Oh! Wow! Just what Ive always wanted!)

At the moment when I unwrapped the stone, I developed a theory that you should always give presents which can be eaten, dissolved in the bath, or that will wilt on your windowsill after a week or two.

Fifteen years later Im still staring at Idi Amin, and hes staring back at me from his perch atop a pile of papers. The flashing nun telephone is in a cardboard box in the attic, because when her batteries ran out she lost her power to inspire and heal. The baboon tea cosy was, Im happy to say, eaten by rats - bless them!

Some people are much more ruthless. A few days after Christmas they rush into the nearest charity shop and dump all their unwanted presents in a dustbin liner. But I feel that to discard a well-meant present is churlish, and that somehow such an act would be witnessed by the spirits who guard the universe, and that my friend, minding her own business in Wantage High Street would be approached by a gypsy who would stare into her eyes and say, Even as we speak your friend with the glasses is throwing the baboon tea cosy into the rubbish bin.

I love receiving bath things. But I now have such a toiletries mountain I would have to spend the rest of my life in the bath, and live to be a hundred, in order to use them all. This would certainly add meaning and focus to my declining years, probably meriting the offer of a TV reality show, and it might eventually result in canonisation. Theres a saint in Tuscany who attained sanctity just be refusing to get out of bed for years. They thought it was a sign she was blessed: nowadays we know this is a symptom of a disorder called Being a Teenager.

However, though Ive received some weird presents in my time, Ive given some stinkers. I always have the best of intentions, visiting the eco charity shop in October and noting with approval the little notebooks made of banana leaves and the soap made with the wax of the endangered Brazil nut. Why then, last year, did I suddenly realise it was December 18 and run through the streets like a madwoman, gathered foolish random detritus and bearing it home in triumph?

Why did I send my poor defenceless nephew (in his mid-30s and so far childless) a gigantic cardboard baby? He placed it on the piano and it gave the dog a nervous breakdown. Why did I foist upon my unsuspecting daughter, who has been pestering me for a puppy for 18 years, a handbag shaped like an armadillo? Why did I impose on my venerable far-right Republican friends in New York the shock and awe of a subscription to Private Eye? (Sue, we just dont get it.) Why, why, why?

Im always tempted to buy a goat for an African village, but how would you gift wrap it? (The village, obviously gift-wrapping the goat would be easy.) Desperate for inspiration this year, I turned to the Bible. Gold, frankincense and myrrh! Brilliant, stylish, cool! Although I bet Jesus had broken them by Boxing Day.


More from People


Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

25 years in business is no mean feat – and the owner of Lauren’s Catering has lost none of his ambition

Read more
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Julian Dunkerton has moved his family’s cider-making business from Herefordshire to the outskirts of Cheltenham, where it boasts a state-of-the-art production unit and a stylish new shop. But don’t think the heart of the business has changed one whit: it still honours the core values Ivor and Susie Dunkerton held dear when they planted their first apple tree, nearly 40 years ago

Read more
Monday, November 26, 2018

If you want to spread some Christmas cheer to those in need, here are some fantastic charities in the Cotswolds to donate to

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Harnessing the power of social media, charity awards and dreaming up new projects - it’s all in a day’s work for Gloucestershire children’s charity Pied Piper and its corporate supporters

Read more
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Cotswolds’ very own Prince of Wales turns 70 this month, so we looked back on some of the highlights of his life and career, and wondered what birthday pressies we would buy for the man who has the world at his feet

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When landowners are looking to sell their land, and want a transparent journey that delivers them best value, Rosconn Strategic Land is here to take them through the process.

Read more

Radio DJ Paul Gambaccini has secured a payout from prosecutors over unfounded allegations of historical sex offences. The presenter, 69, was arrested in 2013 over a claim he sexually assaulted two teenage boys in the early 1980s. Mr Gambaccini always denied the claims, calling the case “completely fictitious”. He spent a year on bail before the case was dropped. Two years later he gave this interview to Katie Jarvis

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Barn Theatre’s artistic director, Iwan Lewis, talks to Candia McKormack about a rather special project aimed at bringing the Cotswold community together in commemoration of the Great War’s fallen

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

The environmental charity set up to protect Stroud’s industrial heritage now enhances the lives of its own volunteers. Katie Jarvis meets chief executive Clare Mahdiyone to hear about her Cotswold Life

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Alex Caccia was in two minds about setting up Animal Dynamics as a limited company, but a shark attack warning changed all of that. Tanya Gledhill meets a man on a mission to change propulsion, one animal at a time

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

He quit his job with a few thousand pounds in savings and an empty garage. In less than a year, Nick Grey’s technology company Gtech was flying. Tanya Gledhill meets him

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search