The drone armies will soon be with us, bringing peace and cheer to all men, and I look forward to the day when I have to lay out a landing strip for my parcel vector, and watch the skies anxiously. Is thirty minutes too long to wait for a delivery? Perhaps. Heaven knows I don't want to go to an actual shop (although Amazon seems to think that they too might be coming back into fashion), but if I want something now, I want it now, and I'm surprised they don't seem to understand that.
That said, I have had a few parcels delivered to my door in recent days, in the slowest way imaginable (by Cambridge traffic). Christmas, after all, is a time for giving and sharing, even if what we mostly give and share is of dubious moral or functional worth. Perhaps that is the point. Gift giving is a symbolic, rather than a useful or functional, activity; thus searching for your 'gifts' as far as possible out along a dimension orthogonal to utility or good sense seems to be most of the point.
Somewhere on that orthogonal line you may, in fact, locate a modicum of delight. This is the art of present-giving. And in that spirit the Guardian, that bastion of liberal ethics, the other day published a list of the thirty 'must-have' gadgets of 2016, which included a £14,000 bicycle, a hybrid electric car, a vacuum cleaner, a turntable, a 3-d printer, a 'home-bot' (which is a new category for me), and, ironically, a drone. As someone remarked of a similar assembly of must-have ‘gifts’, it looks like a shopping list for the last days of Pompeii. You can also, if you feel a little overwhelmed, buy a £30 box designed to help you 'declutter'. Which, if it isn't a clever philosophical think-piece, must be the very definition of sharp-practice.
All of which might be sounding a tad humbugish. And of course, were even a little of this bounty to drop on me from the skies this Christmas, I would be agog with simple, innocent delight. But, to repeat, there will be no airborne deliveries in Cambridge before Christmas, so I can, for the time being, continue nurse my horror at the armfuls of tat I'm going to have to bring home from John Lewis before the end of the week.