There are no funny greetings cards left

Max Dickins talks about his bum again

It was my Dad’s birthday this week. Choosing a present was simple enough, he always wants the same thing: socks, whiskey and some disgusting hard-core pornography.

He’s easy to buy for. Choosing a greeting card, however, is a lot harder; whatever the occasion, it’s a minefield. We have the nigh-on impossible task of choosing something personal, unique, appropriate and amusing from a bunch of cards that are none of those things. It’s like finding a non-bell end at the UKIP party conference.

You have a few choices of retailers. There’s Clintons obviously, which offers the widest selection of mawkish mush, technicolor guff, and flaccid quips. I rarely make it to Clintons however. I normally forget entirely, and end up in a petrol station or train platform booth, 15 minutes before I have to present the card.


And I find myself writing a swiftly assembled bon-mot, in my own blood, whilst sat on a disabled toilet.   By this stage I’ve long got past caring what the card looks like, or even what it says.

I once gave a Christmas card which said “Happy Anniversary” on it, having to crudely adapt it with “of the death of Jesus Christ”. Not that I am necessarily against category errors of this sort. A simple and effective gag for all occasions is to choose a “My Deepest Sympathies” card whatever the event: birthday, marriage, birth of a child. “The event you think is good is actually worthy of deep mourning! HAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

They’ll laugh, everyone else will laugh, but you will die hopelessly alone. It strikes me that there are several broad categories of greeting-card. Here I present a handy summary.

1) “Randy cards”

These are photo-based cards with bawdy captions. There are two sub-genres, aimed at the different sexes. Firstly, “phroaarrr nice tits”, and secondly, “Phroaarrr nice muscles”/ “We all like big dicks right girls?!”

This card manages to reduce the broad, textured, colourful strokes of the human personality into one crass guttural grunt. You’re basically saying, “Hey Dave, I know you’re obsessed with tits, so I thought you’d enjoy this”.


2) “Sound cards”

You open up these cards and some music or audio is played. These tend to be simply Trojan horses for fart sounds. Now, there is a time and a place for a fart, which is into the mouth of a sleeping girlfriend. But is it appropriate at a family occasion?

3) “Convincing old people they have a reason to live cards”

You give these cards to people old enough that they could die literally any minute, or in short: the over 70s. They tend to live widowed and depressed in a rural cottage, the warmth of fresh dog shit through a supermarket bag the closest they get to human intimacy.

This is a fate too depressing to face, so cards are a useful way to soften the blow. They tend to contain phrases like, “70 is the new 40!” “Life starts at 80!” or “You’re only as old as the dog shit you feel.”

4) “Photo of an animal cards”

If you give this card you really are scraping the barrel. This is the card you give when you can’t be bothered to stare at them in the shop any longer. It tends to be a cute puppy, or a cat, or some laughing apes. Everyone loves a picture of a monkey don’t they? And we all give them, numb to the irony that the greeting card industry probably relies on paper sourced by destroying their native habitats.

5) “A nice watercolour of a duck card”

Again, you’ve run out of ideas. Or your gran bought you one because it’s all they sell in her local Budgens, and she can’t go to another shop because she can’t drive anymore, and you can’t give her a lift because you can never be bothered to go and see her because you’re too busy with your shitty job.

Also filed under the broad category of “I have no idea what to give cards”, are “Teddy-bear cards”; “Golf jokes cards”; and “Mock-up of newspapers cards”.

6) “Really earnest cards”

These tend to be pretty simple. Plain cards carrying glib, sentimental statements like: “Love is the gift that keeps on giving” or “Pain only exists when we forget to believe in life”. Often they’re so vacuous that they’re actually non-sequiturs, “Age is just a number, and you’re my number one!”

These cards are probably written by ex-public-school girls, seeking an actual income other than the one they pretend to make from writing their food and yoga blogs.


7) “Slightly sexist cards”

These are photos from the distant past, usually black and white pictures of a man or woman from the 50s, 60s or 70s. The photos are accompanied by an amusing suggestion that the man or woman is shit at something.

For example, “Mum never does the ironing!” “Dad does long poos in the morning!” “Mum is a shit cook because she is more interesting in getting drunk!” “Dad doesn’t know what a clitoris is!”

8) “Personalised cards” The new players in the game. These guys allow you to send a card without even leaving your desk. We’ve all seen the adverts, from companies like Moonpig or Funky Pigeon or Jizz Mole. These allow you to upload your own photos and create your own captions.

This sounds all well and good until you consider that you are probably witless, and you look pissed in literally all your photos. So, after forty minutes of browsing these various categories you finally make a choice.

You pay your money, you go home and write something heart-felt and kind or something vulgar and amusing.You give your card. They open it, look at it for three seconds, and forget about it forever. And next year you have to do it all again.

What card did I get my Dad? A close-up photo of the entrance to my anus. He told me: “I never want a card from you ever again”. Job done.