Thursday, September 06, 2007

Pat calling the kettle crap

"Come and look at this" murmured the Harrogate-based alpha brother while beckoning me into his kitchen. The visual feast I was expected to provide a reaction to was a brand new kettle he'd bought, with a puzzling feature whereby it doesn't seem to take time to do anything. Rather than needing a standard three to four minute boiling period, you just fill it up, flick it on, and then it pours the water out at a boiling temperature within seconds, producing quickfire tea. I'm not quite sure how it works. I'm no scientist. Or electrician. Or interested. But it emerged that this freaky little instant-boiling device had set him back £63: for a kettle! That's just so Harrogate.

My brother wasn't happy with my luke-warm response (I take a while to boil up [*ba-dum-pa-tssssshh*]). I complained that it was a ridiculous purchase and an example of the kind of nonsensical gadget fetishism that kept the western world's false economies artificially afloat. You can do the same job with a 50-year old pan and a hob oven top if you're willing to wait a few minutes. I don't see removing the processes of life as being necessarily a good thing. We should really delight in process, so that the product is all the more appreciated. There's a certain therapy to putting the kettle on and being able to wander off and conduct some vital life-admin around the house, before returning like clockwork to witness the boiling point and having built up an even greater thirst than you started with. Then, quenching that thirst with a carefully-crafted cup of tea is just heaven. I've often read the back page of the Evening Gazette in the time it takes for the kettle to boil. Or made a toilet trip, made a chess move, or cut down a small tree. To remove the period of waiting time is also to remove the pleasure. It's teamaking for the iPod generation and it's sickening. What next? Nourishment without the pleasure of taste, without chewing and being able to manipulate the foodstuff from cheek to cheek for lasting thrills? Consuming literature without the sensuous licking of ones finger in order to turn from page to page to page (to page)?

His considered assessment of my reasons for being unimpressed by this iKettle was that I was "just jealous". This was the final straw. I pointed out that surely he meant I was envious rather than jealous, since jealously (in its unspoiled semantic form) means being fiercely possessive and guarded towards one's property. People have gradually distorted its meanings and just substituted it for envy. So, since I don't own an iKettle I'm unable to be jealous of it, but could feasibly be envious, even though I'm not. So there. I don't think the alpha brother wants to speak to me anymore.

14 Comments:

Blogger Dan said...

These 'developments' do worry me.

I heard on the radio the other day that Mastercard are introducing some kind of P.I.N-less credit card for "small purchases such as newspapers and milk".

Apparently, this will mean that we no longer have to perform the arduous task of taking money from our pockets and communicating with a shop worker. Instead, we will flash this card in front of a machine, saving literally seconds.

Well perhaps I like coins, and moreover I like interaction with (some of) my fellow human beings.

I like taking time. I'm not deluded to an extent that I think myself important enough to rush anywhere.

As an aside, you did very well to avoid Father Ted repetition by quoting Mrs Doyle: "Maybe I like the misery of making tea".

September 06, 2007 1:42 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

I was very close to quoting Mrs Doyle but decided not to for reasons of repetition, as you suggested. You can read me like a book (and not a very good book, etc etc).

Your careful employment of 'P.I.N.' rather than the nonsensical 'P.I.N. Number' hasn't gone unnoticed, by the way. I must drum that one into myself too from now on, and routinely beat myself upon every erroneous utterance. A bit like a swear box but more violent and based purely in pedantry.

I'm not keen on that Mastercard idea either. It smacks of further market research to me. And who exactly is deigning the relative sizes of our purchases on some arbitrary scale, whereby newspapers and milk are 'small'? Balderdash: they're daily purchases of the greatest magnitude.

September 06, 2007 8:02 pm  
Blogger Gez said...

I usually like over priced gadgets but this one seems a little useless. My guess is that if works like a household hot water tank. It has two filaments, one at the bottom heating the whole thing (immersion)and one at the top making use of convection currents to heat a small amount of water quickly. A bit unnecessary for the sake of 2 minutes and I agree that the wait is part of the sacred ritual.

I agree with the jealous/envious thing but I fear it's a battle already lost.

Oh by the way, I changed the settings on GrammarBlog so for the time being you don't have to prove your human status to post a comment.

September 07, 2007 4:03 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

Like a household water tank eh? I wonder if it sometimes spurts out ice cold water at inopportune moments and at other times, simply doesn't work.

September 07, 2007 4:57 pm  
Blogger Gez said...

And runs scalding hot if someone flushes the loo. Because I mucked up my link on the last post, I'm going to do it again (sorry, I'm an unbearable self-promoter).

Ahem...

Hey kids, check out GrammarBlog. Na-night!

September 07, 2007 5:04 pm  
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