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My guilty pleasure

Why even a design editor throws good taste out the window at Christmas

By Hugo Macdonald

Walking through London’s Columbia Road flower market last weekend with a friend I was moved to tell him of my love for silver and gold spray-painted birch branches. He looked aghast. “They’re horribly tacky, I’m a bit shocked,” he said. I was shocked by his reaction. Sprayed branches take me back to Christmases of my youth, watching my mother unleash rattly cans of spray paint over branches and pinecones and the ­occasional piece of fruit, ready to decorate every flat surface in the house with armfuls of fur boughs and candles. I always loved the smell a bit too much.

Now that Halloween is done and dusted, Christmas is everywhere – shop windows, ­television adverts, over-zealous households with fit-inducing quantities of blinking lights plastered over their walls and gardens. And I do confess I love it all. My friend’s reaction has stayed with me this last week and I’m gradually realising that Christmas is a time when good taste goes out the window and not just for the minority. I wonder what my friend would say if he knew I also love the smell of tinsel and can be found, come late November, decorating my houseplants and door handles with fairy lights and baubles?

I rejoice in bad taste at Christmas. My magpie instincts, which throughout the year see me hoarding wooden animals and mid-­century ceramics, at Christmas switch to gilded tat. I bring out my Christmas Chart Toppers CD and I can occasionally be found wearing a Santa hat.

Trying to fathom why good taste goes out the window at this time of year has had me ­digging deep. Am I just another victim of the gross commercial hijacking that sweeps the world at this time of year? No, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s less a damning indictment on my taste and more a cathartic process of “letting it all out”. Everyone lets go at Christmas. It’s a time for expunging effort or stress, over-indulging copiously and exercising all guilty pleasures to their limits in time for New Year’s purge. So go forth and indulge in bad taste at Christmas – it’s like the binge before the diet and it’s nothing to feel remotely guilty about.

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galleryfumi.com

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