Christmas is a time for parties and celebration. So, naturally, our round-up of the best gadgets this year includes some very big speakers — and an Yves Saint Laurent lipstick machine to make you look pretty dancing in front of them.
It is a time for feeling cosy and looking at a chilly world outside, so we suggest a silky smooth hot chocolate velvetiser (and no one would blame you if you added a little tot of Baileys).
Most of all, it is a time for being around family. So there’s a games console for when you want to escape. And an electric moped, for when you really want to escape.
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There was once a place where Melvyn Bragg could not find me. Where, as I put on my swimming trunks, I could put aside the prospect of a brisk tutorial on the siege of Constantinople. Where, as I braced for the cold and took my first strokes, I braced myself to be without a diverting 45 minutes on the Nicene Creed. Where, as I swam, I could not wear headphones, so I also could not be accompanied by Kierkegaard, Borges or (an invigoratingly short title for an In Our Time episode) Hell. This, as it happens, is a source of sadness. When I improve my body I like to improve my mind. It’s an efficient way to pack in all the wholegrain together (the May 1, 2008 episode, The Enclosures of the 18th Century, gives useful background on packing in the wholegrain). So I prefer to run. But today I am swimming, and as I put down my head for a spot of front crawl, at last Bragg is with me. Thus, so too is the Battle of Crécy. H2O Audio’s bone-conducting headphones are waterproof and designed for swimming. They attach to my goggles and can store music, uploaded from an app (however clever the tech, the laws of physics ensure there’s no hope of a Bluetooth or 5G connection underwater – for an explanation listen to the November 12, 2009 episode, Radiation). So it is that as I push into my tenth lap, Bragg is there to grumpily push the academics into getting on with talking about the battle itself. At the halfway mark he is chivvying them to explain the massacre of the Genoese crossbowmen. By the time I finish my workout, the noble English longbowmen are finishing off the whimpering French knights.
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