Tim Magee’s Christmas Gift Ideas

TIM MAGEE covers all bases from scent to sentimentality with his Christmas gift ideas…

Eight & Bob, the Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy Edition

SOMETHING FRIVOLOUS: Eight & Bob, the Robert Fitzgerald Kennedy edition

I’ve had one scent for the last 15 years. The scent wasn’t rare or pricey. It wasn’t on billboards or in any Duty Free. No actors were employed in selling it. It wasn’t distilled from the musk glands of a unicorn. I think it smelled good. People seemed to like it and I’m not surrounded by people who would volunteer that something smelled good if it didn’t. It was 30-odd bucks and from a clothes stores that I wouldn’t even buy socks in. Then last year the American clothes brand first changed, then discontinued it. 

This year was the 50th anniversary of Bobby Kennedy’s presidential run – a campaign that ended in tragedy but a campaign that has since motivated some of the best people in politics to be better. The background to Eight & Bob, a range of scents and accessories, involves RFK’s big brother, a French aristocrat and his love of aromas, and a shaggy dog story about cologne-stealing Nazis and bottles hidden in books. 

Few things are more frivolous than cologne, but with the smell of politics being so sulphurous for the last couple of years, even looking at RFK’s name when reaching for a daily scent might make everything feel better. Part of the bobs you spring for Eight & Bob go to the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Europe Foundation so you can feel good and do good to smell good.

I was surprised to find this particular bottle in an in-house boutique in a pricey hotel. Not surprised at the store, which smelt deliciously of expensive things, or shocked at the slick display of eye-wateringly dear knick-knacks, but taken aback that a spritz of this smelled exactly like my now gone, much-lamented, scent. This bottle is a more worldly and sophisticated version of my old friend. www.eightandbob.com.

Vespa Elettrica


I’m writing this in LA – more about that next month – but LA is a dangerous town for most Irish people. Hardwired to jaywalk, the Irish wait like Larmour to make a break through a line of traffic, which makes the City of Angels lethal because of its adoration of electric vehicles. You won’t hear the Nissan Leaf or the more random but beautiful Tesla in Ireland over the noise of the rest of the traffic, but in this town the streets can be near-silent as all class of vehicles are electric and noiseless, from the ubiquitous scooters that cruise Venice and Downtown to any of the cars that ghost the streets in a lovely green silence. 2019 is the year of the Vespa Elettrica. After a long wait it is available for preorder in Eurozone countries only. No Brexiteers need apply. Piaggio say that this silent star takes four hours to charge, it’s fully juiced after eight, has a 100km range and the torque of a serious motorbike, and will cost in and around seven grand with a battery that’ll last about ten years. I used to have a Vespa and I loved it. The riding position, the lack of aggression in its design – everything about it was a polite, stylishly beautiful thing. It was also a noisy yoke. The idea of silently bypassing traffic listening to a peaceful podcast through my helmet is a daydream right at the top of my Santa list. www.vespa.com.

Punkt smartphone


I hate my phone. It a perfectly good smartphone – an iPhone X – and I’d probably be unemployed without it but I hate the power it has over me. I don’t actually need to check the news every three minutes with its dripfeeds of cortisol hurting my body and soul. I am realistically not going to give up my connectivity but we don’t all need to be connected all the time. I need to get smarter, with a dumber phone. There are times when being able to get online is essential, but often phoning and texting is plenty – your numbers are all that’s necessary sometimes. We all need more real buttons, dials and switches in our lives to contact the people that we love, live and work with, rather than wasting our time checking in on total strangers on the interweb. Turn off your regular smartphone for the weekend, for the evening or even just for holidays. Stop talking about the addiction and at least reduce it. The Punkt is a tiny handset, weighs nothing, has great sound and it’s simple to transfer your numbers. Well-made, tough, with a Gorilla Glass screen, it’s a handsome little thing. It has a near immortal battery life, an alarm clock, a very basic calendar and Bluetooth so you can use it in your car or with a headset. And that is the height of it. There is something reassuringly grown up about having a phone just for keeping in touch – an emoticon-free zone that gives me a happy face. www.punkt.ch.

Madra, Purpleblue photography


The unconditional love thing isn’t the best reason for having a dog in your life. I’ve been lucky enough to have plenty of unconditional love from two-legged animals, but dogs bring you things that people cannot. They are better than TV, they get you off your ass daily whether you want to move or not, and make you laugh more than any human can, every single day. When you have had the worst of days, they are the best of distractions. We don’t deserve dogs. They are four-legged comedic angels and you can be a hero and rescue one. 

Some of my friends, family, colleagues and others won’t thank me for saying it but if you choose and buy a particular breed of dog you want for Christmas, or at any time, you are not helping, however much you end up loving that specific dog. There is a pup mountain out there that needs to be taken down and a senior dog lake that needs draining. There are too many shelter dogs – old and young, skinny and fat, big and tiny, pedigree and mongrel – that need saving, and they are patiently waiting for you to rescue them. 

Save a black dog. A black lab is just as loving and reliable as a golden lab but black dogs are ignored. Rescue a greyhound. They are the least effort, shy and funny and brilliant with people – watching them running around themselves in whirlwinds of paws, ears, tails and smiles is a daily giddy treat. They will be asleep at your feet the rest of the time. Save a mutt. The more mongrel and mixed he is, the less health issues the dog will have. 

There are great large organisations like DogsTrust and others, but I have supported Madra for a couple of years and they do so much with so little. It takes one day to save a dog’s life. It will spend the rest of its days rescuing you. www.madra.ie.


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