As promised, here’s part 2 of my guide to the best and worst free gifts. This part is about the shonkiest, crappiest free gifts. In no particular order, here goes:
HORRIBLE LITTLE MASKS: At around the same time as I was swooning over the free NME poster of gorgeous Neds bassist Mat, my late grandmother was ordering some real junk from the kind of catalogues that used to have quarter-page adverts in Woman’s Realm – such as 5000 hideous birthday cards that all had the same verse inside. With one item of crap that my grandmother ordered, she unexpectedly received a free set of horrible miniature pierrot masks. My mother apparently said “Rachel will love those” so my grandmother showed me the horrid little masks. I did not love these grotesque little things at all so I declined them. A few years later my late grandmother also tried to fob a Westlife CD she’d received free with something onto me.
RINGLESS KEY RING: The magazine Just Seventeen – which I stopped reading when I was about 15 – once gave away a free key ring which didn’t have an actual ring attached (well, mine didn’t, anyway).
NICE LOLLIPOP, SHAME ABOUT THE CONTAINER: At school when I was 5 – in 1979 – one afternoon as a Friday treat my class were all given red lollipops. The lollipop was nice but the jar they were in wasn’t – they were It’s A Knockout lollipops with caricatures of Stuart Hall and his co-presenters all over the jar.
One notoriously rubbish free gift that I didn’t get on principle:
EPIC FAIL: When Prince’s 3121 CD was initially released in the UK, for one day only it came with a free Daily Fail (or Fail on Sunday). Sadly the wee man in purple is no longer with us but the Daily Fail is still published every day – and I see today’s “Legsit” front page is particularly puerile. Some of my neighbours have tried to encourage me to read the Daily Fail, and my aforementioned late grandmother was a Fail reader – I doubt the Daily Fail fuelled my grandmother’s bizarre belief that Tony Blair was a radical socialist, as I don’t think even the Fail believe Thatcher fanboy Blair has ever been left-wing.