The Bloke

I REALLY don't know what I want for Christmas.

Yes, I know a couple of weeks ago I said I wanted a Bigtrak, but I'm starting to think that if it's anything like the remote control car I got for my 10th birthday I won't be able to afford all the batteries.

I thought I'd be grown-up and ask for artwork to cover our depressingly bare walls at home.

But the Missus has vetoed it, insisting she have some input. And experience tells me to go along with this one.

I once ordered a picture online without telling her and the look on her face when it arrived would have struck fear into the soul of Simon Cowell. Well, it would if he had one anyway.

The thing is I knew I'd be in this position, so this year I took precautions by adding things to my list as and when I thought of them.

But now that I look at the list I realise that I've gone off them in the intervening months.

The subscription to Golf World was a fad, the second series of Eastbound and Down on DVD a mere passing fancy.

A gadget would be good, but my dad's noticeable lack of enthusiasm (he famously tutted when I opened my iPod a few years back and told me I should have asked for a new bed) has made me wary.

Bizarrely, he asked me the other day how much 'one of those Why things' cost.

It turned out he meant a Wii and thought it would be good fun to play over Christmas, but was under the illusion they were going for 'about thirty quid'.

So instead I'm going to ask for clothes. And yes, I realise it's not very interesting.

But it's either that or resign myself to unwrapping a big pile of disappointment on Christmas morning or, even worse, opening another envelope with another cheque in it.

I know you shouldn't grumble about being given free money. But the trouble is that whenever I get cash for Christmas I never spend it on the thing it's intended for.

The hundred quid for a new hi-fi went on council tax. The money for a camera was eaten up by an MOT and service.

At least if you ask for something you get to open something on Christmas Day, even if you hate it.

Unfortunately I'm not sure this is quite getting through.

"I think I'd quite like a coat for Christmas," I told my mum the other day, trying to be subtle without sounding as bossy as my sister.

"Christmas? Oh yes, we're going to give you money."

"Right, yes, thank you mum. It's just that I'd really like a new coat."

"Ok, we'll give you the money and you can buy it."

"Er, thank you again mum. But if it's okay I'd rather unwrap something on Christmas morning."

"Oh, right," she had said, sounding a bit taken aback by this unexpected development. "I suppose we'll have to see what we can do then, won't we?"

Between you and me, I'm not expecting this to end well.

AT least those good people at DVLA are spreading some Christmas cheer.

I phoned them the other day to ask where my new tax disc was.

"Our records show you have paid for one and it has been sent out to you," said a call centre monkey called Wayne over the phone from Swansea.

That was all fine and dandy, I explained, but it hadn't arrived.

"I can send you a new one," said Wayne. "Just to warn you though, the police can fine you for not displaying a valid tax disc."

"But I've paid for one."

"That's right sir."

"And it hasn't arrived."

"Correct sir."

"And I can get fined for that?"

"Right again sir."

Oh well, I guess the Christmas money will cover it.

CAR-MAGEDDON: Just another typical day for motorists in Leeds.

Neil Hudson: Healthy journeys take longer