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Peep into my wish list!

By  Dec 12, 2007

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My editor has posted several proposals for the ultimate gift. Inspired by her posts, I would like to propose some of the gifts that I always accept with gratitude. Feel free to borrow some gift ideas from the following list.

In a different life, I must have been a Victorian. I'm not so keen on electronic gadgets (although I admit I have quite a few). To me, they're just a means to an end.

By contrast, a stroll across Jermyn Street or St. James Street in the SW1 and SW2 zip codes of London makes my shopping-spree handlers unwind my stack. More than once have I found myself throwing out GBP 300 at the drop of a hat. I started off with Penhaligon's. I still consider their products as the finest one can get (both for gentlemen and ladies), although they're really, really outrageously priced. You can get better value for money at the nearby D R Harris shop, or even at Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving store (yes, in spite of the name it's in Jermyn Street). Be it fine colognes, a shaving cream tub (stay away from those cheap aerosols sold in supermarkets and drugstores -- they're a disgrace!), or even a rare cutthroat razor which I'll never use but treasure in my bathroom closet like the crown jewels of shaving.

I prefer in most cases to buy fragrances blindly, based on the general fragrance notes and of course, the manufacturer's reputation. If it's an 18th family business, I'm willing to take the risk. Admittedly, sometimes it turns out to be an utter disappointment: having spent $70 on an EDT, I discover the next day that the fragrance is not something I'll ever want to wear again. And yet, you can also come across amazing finds, such as the D R Harris Sandalwood aftershave. It taught me that the scent of natural sandalwood is lightyears away from the synthetic sandalwood fragrances that are so commonplace. The price is another pleasant surprise: about GBP 15 for an old-fashioned 100ml (3.4 oz) glass bottle. Their Arlington aftershave is also one of my favorites. It's simple, old-fashioned citrus and fern, though still prestigious and dashing.

The sad news is that most traditional family-owned English perfumers are gradually abandoning the toiletries business. The competition is tough, there are too many psychotic bald celebrities and soccer players advertising a perfume that bears their name, and the expenses (especially if your shop is located in central London) are a ripoff. Enjoy it while you can.

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