Susan Morrison: Zoella’s tat is no substitute for advent ‘cat donkey’

Zoella is charging a king's ransom for her advent calendar. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Zoella is charging a king's ransom for her advent calendar. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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My friend George rarely takes heed of modern trends and really doesn’t have much time for the folderols of 21st century life. So, he surprised me recently by asking if I knew what a Zoella was. As a matter of fact, I do, I said.

She, for it is a she, is a beauty ­blogger, I said, full of confidence. Of course, the next thing that happened was a long, detailed description of what a blogger actually is, and the day just vanished. For those of you who don’t know, ­Zoella is a tiny young woman who wears her own bodyweight in cosmetics and films herself taking said slap off and on.

She then puts the films on the interweb, other young women watch her, and somehow the girl earns a fortune.

It does sound like an easy way to make money, but no one is going to pay to watch me trowel on the many layers of ridiculously and frankly pointless stuff I use. They used to boast about John Hurt spending five hours in make up to look like the Elephant Man. Trust me, it takes even longer to make me look like a passable human.

It turns out that Zoella has issued an advent calendar, and for reasons that still baffle me, George loved it. I think he was impressed by the fact she was charging a king’s ransom for it, but some had made snide comments about the quality of the surprises behind the doors. The words ‘Poundland’ and ‘tat’ were bandied about.

Despite Zoella’s little hiccup, advent calendars have gone upmarket. I recall the days when we proudly reused our little calendar. There were no chocolates, gin or even Poundland tat behind pictures of Wise Men and pointy stars. There were just more pictures. Lambs, angels, little Baby Jesus, that sort of thing. Mum used to iron it shut when the Christmas stuff was put away. Somehow, we still ­managed to get excited when the ­little donkey put in an appearance on the 15th. No idea why. It didn’t even look like a donkey. More like an irritated cat with a saddle on. The advent, as it were, of the chocolate calendar was a game changer. The idea of chocolate before breakfast on a school day just blew our minds. One year my little brother, aka The Pest, learned how to open the bottom of the calendar and stole all the chocolates without anyone spotting his handiwork. Both my parents immediately went into worry overdrive lest this evidence of early light-fingered activity could be the harbinger of a future as a gentleman cat-burglar. He earns a fortune doing something faintly sinister in Switzerland now, so perhaps it was.