by Francis Andrews in New Trends on Monday 1 December 2008

There’s ethnic tat, and there’s ethnic tat. On your first round-the-world trip, you’ll buy up the standard drapes, masks, bongs, drums, and so on. You’ll come back the proud bearer of rare and previously unseen items, before realising the exact same products are being sold in your local fairtrade shop. So on your next trip you’ll branch out a bit, and scoop up some lotions and spices you’re sure the organic market in town doesn’t sell. But it’s only when you mature to a higher level of foresight and gall that you’ll chance upon the pinnacle of ethnic tat: the Chairman Mao watch. On the last check it was still only available in China (or via mail order, but who wants that?), and therefore guarantees a genuine look of surprise and admiration upon unpacking your bags, for you must have traversed the mystical heights of the Himalayas and dodged the all-seeing eyes of the Communist Party to bring something of the other world back with you.