Yes, it’s August (just about). But this is a post that’s about Christmas. Two Christmases, in fact. Christmas 2020 and…either Christmas 1988 or 1989. The memories are a little hazy. Firstly, this picture, which took 30 years to produce.

Fort Max

I still don’t know how exactly The Pied Pedler in Bicester ended up with two Fortress Maximus toys (and a Sky Lynx). They were never officially released in Britain, and it seems odd for grey imports to end up on shelves alongside official Hasbro UK product. But they were there, and I got one of them for Christmas (in 88 or 89; I’m leaning more towards 89 because the Headmasters had been out for a couple of years at that point). The only problem with Fort Max is that he completely towered over Scorponok, his equivalent in the Deception faction. Well, 30 years later, Hasbro got around to fixing that with a 21” version of everybody’s favourite scorpion robot. He even includes the double-Headmaster gimmick along with all the modern articulation improvements. Hasbro: “We will sell your childhood back to you, but just a little better, and you’ll love us for it.”

(We won’t talk about how I’m eager to get the new Beast Wars toys from Transformers: Kingdom already and they probably won’t be out until 2021)

For Christmas 2020, welcome to the slow reveal of a project that I’m working on along with about 20 other desserts: Roses 2020.

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Given the state of the world, and I guess in particular the US and the UK, it is incredibly unlikely that I’ll be going home for Christmas, the first time I’ve missed returning for eight years. That makes me sad. And I fill the void of sadness with desserts. So many desserts. One of my ideas is to restore the honour of Cadbury’s Roses by creating a new selection of chocolates over the holiday that recall their glory days instead of the flow-wrapped monstrosities with sub-Dairy Milk chocolate that you find in them today. Also, those kids need to get off my damn lawn. Anyhow, this is my take on the classic Hazelnut Swirl…without a swirl because I hate swirl molds (you can just never clean them properly). Milk chocolate shell, a roasted whole hazelnut inside, and the rest of the filling is a milk chocolate gianduja that’s mostly chocolate, but gives it a softer, more hazelnut taste than the traditional Swirl. More of these to come in due course, including some Very Ian Takes on a couple of classics.

And finally, after three years after the initial transmission on BBC4, we finished Series 3 of detectorists. Look, I know it’s Last Of The Summer Wine, But For Hipsters, but it’s so good and bloody nice. Take the final episode, which refuses to resolve the main subplot of the series until the very last tracking shot, and gives everybody, even the series’ main villains, such a happy ending…which is a day out in a field. There’s even a montage of putting up a gazebo. In the final episode. This show is a cup of tea and a pair of crumpets on a Sunday night and it knows that’s what you need.

The Actor Kevin Eldon puts in a masterful appearance, and if the looks exchanged between Terry in the field and Sheila sitting in the tree don’t make you well up, you are Officially Dead Inside. Not a nasty bone in its body and yet somehow never cloyingly sweet, it is probably the best BBC comedy in the past 20 years. At least.1 How exactly did Mackenzie Crook become this good, and why isn’t he as fêted as Gervais, who could never, ever write something like this?

  1. Yes, that’s right, Fleabag fans. And I do love Fleabag! But detectorists is a little bit better. Or maybe I’m getting old enough that I just love something that completely discards cynicism and irony and just revels in the interior of the world it has created. [return]