Although why 'something meaningful' has to include making a balsa-wood copy of the Cutty Sark, God alone knows.
Actually, I've just wondered. Are partworks a peculiarly British thing, or do people in other countries also get exhorted to spend an inordinate amount of money over twelve months in the forlorn hope putting together a colossally amateurish model of a steam engine or collection of DVD movies from some Z-list director?
It's particularly galling the way they start at £1.99 per issue at the beginning, then once they've got you hooked on their sweet, sweet honey, they shoot up to a fiver a pop. It's too late. You're committed. WH Smiths are holding the copies for you - how will it end?
Well, with a model boat, you pillock. What were you expecting, a Damien Hirst number?
There's certainly a wide range of partworks to choose from, each complete with free folder or binder to accompany the first issue. But there are still some gaps in the market. So, magazine publishing companies, I present below some ideas.
- Toast: The Definitive History - over a mere 48 weeks this partwork builds into a stunning collection of grilled bread-based comestibles. Accompanying DVDs show the impact of toast on our culture and economy. Free crumb tray with first edition.
- Diesel Pump - because there's a little bit of Vin in all of us. Be the first on your street to own the full collection of Vin Diesel classic movies. Thrill as you watch him in that one where he drives a car really fast. Be amazed as you see that other one where there are explosions. And he drives a car really fast.
- Got Lint? - pocket lint and fluff is not just an irritant any more. Now it can be a fascinating and fulfilling hobby. Carefully build your collection every week over 18 months - it's going to be something that everyone at home wants to talk about!
- TV Test Cards of Our Times - this 12-piece DVD set shows the evolution of TV test cards and patterns from the earliest days of broadcasting. From the BBC Type 'A' from the 1950s, to that spooky one with the girl apparently playing noughts and crosses against a doll, there's something for everyone in this beautiful collection. Each disc approximately three hours in duration, including director's cut and out-takes.
- Lichen: The Complete Collection - are you a fun guy? Then take a look at our fungi! (And algae, actually). Each week you get to study a different species of this fascinating hybrid organism, until you complete the full set. Thrill as you get to observe Lecidella elaeochroma, which of course lacks the thalline margin but instead has a 'proper' margin the same colour as its central disc. Crazy! With over 17,000 species out there, you'll be collecting for the rest of your natural lifetime. Or until you get sectioned by your family members. Whichever comes first.
I tell you something - this stuff comes easy. I definitely want a cut of the profits.