what is tat?

A Guide To Plastic Tat

What is tat?
Dictionary definition: tat n. ragged, shoddy article; tattiness.

Tat has always been a derogatory term for what people think of as worthless, useless junk. To us, tat is desirable and beautiful to look at. There are four main qualifications for something to be regarded as tat:

1. It must be cheap: Nothing expensive can ever be called tat. It may have all the other qualifications but if it cost more than a couple of pounds then it is merely a beautiful or horrendous (depending to taste) object. The main thing about tat is that it can be justified by its lack of (monetary) value. "But it was a bargain!", is the frequent cry of the habitual tat-buyer and can diffuse most criticism of the purchase.

2. It should be plastic: Plastic is such a cheap, all-purpose type of substance which makes it ideal for creating tat. It can make all kinds of shapes and textures and will not usually break easily. Plus it is usually brightly coloured.

3. It should be brightly coloured: Bright colours are cheery, catch the eye and look like sweets when lots are put together.

4. You must react strongly to it immediately: The uttering of an uncontrollable 'aah!', 'eeee!' or 'ooh!' upon spying something cheap, plastic and brightly coloured is the unconscious reaction of the tat lover. This can cause some embarrassment to any shopping companions unaware of their friend's predilection, or those who disapprove of it. The reaction need not be favourable at first: on many occasion the initial reaction to an item is of hilarity and horror but, upon further perusal, a certain charm may begin to make itself known and another purchase is imminent.

Tat can also be useless, but pretty, or useful and fun. An item can be of no use whatsoever but looks great in your room and you love it, or it can be a useful item (such as a purse or a box with a lock) that's also really cute to look at and fun to use. Though it does seem that my most favourite items of tat are of little use, or are seldom used for their purpose if they do have one, showing that their main purpose is being a gorgeous thing and making me happy.

Tat is fun, cute, glittery, bright, gorgeous, amusing and happy, and there's always room in the house, and the budget, for something new to love.

Where to find tat
dinosaur grabbers

Woolworths - Woolies is just a fantastic shop with many bargains to be had and preposterously horrible things to laugh at. I love Woolies. Go to the pocket money display to obtain cheapo toys such as our dinosaur grabbers (99p each). But the best bit of Woolies is their amazing array of sweets. Where else can you get a plastic racing car filled with sweets? Or a crocodile lollipop holder? And the inventiveness of the gum manufacturers is always a source of interest.
An all-round favourite.

Christies: The 99p Shop - An absolute haven for tat but items tend to appear then are replaced with something else within a few weeks and are never seen again. I have a weakness for their money boxes and have often to be restrained from adding to the collection by my sister.
(NB. A second opinion from a sympathetic shopping partner is usually useful but shopping with another tat lover can be risky if the item is attractive to both. A degree of compromise may be needed to prevent falling-outs.)

money boxes
cat bowl This shop has been rather superseded in our eyes by the '99p-9.99' shop trading in Elgin. As the name suggests, this shop contains pricier items and thus is more of a source for amusement. But it is great for tat at the cheaper end of the deal, notable purchases include plastic shark drink coolers, a walking, baaing green lamb, and a cat bowl in the shape of a cat's face.
Toy shops - Practically every toy shop has an aisle of 'pocket money' toys for a under a pound. This should be an array of delights. A recent visit to Junners in Elgin provided a squeaky shark and a pink and white transparent bracelet filled with water and glitter and neither cost more than 1. Even Harrods and Hamleys have their share of cheap, fun items.
Kinder eggs - Bit of a gamble, this one. You may end up with something fantastic or something rather crap. It's usually worth the risk but it can be depressing to get something rubbish. Buying more than one at a time increases the odds of getting a decent toy. The surprise element is a large part of the appeal but is also the reason for frequent disappointments. Best to buy one on a successful shopping trip so that you still have all your other purchases to dribble over if it's a dud.

My favourite tat!

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