When I knew that the boy's birthday was coming up, I decided to simply ask him what he wanted. Whatever I ended up buying him was coming out of his pay packet anyway, so it was better to get him something I knew he'd like.
And do you know what he said to get him?
An XBOX 360 and a game called Guitar Hero II. If you haven't already guessed, the latter comes with a shrunk-down version of those guitars you'll see played by Kiss-inspired bands, in garages all over the world.
And he was very pleased with it. Very pleased indeed.
**As a footnote, I did intend to surprise him with an additional birthday item - a pair of grandpa-style slippers to keep his feet toasty during the long winter nights with the game console. P'raps it's just as well I couldn't find any that were dowdy enough, because he may not have got the joke.