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August 2003 - The Mystery Gadget

By the time you've got round to reading all the way through this particular edition of Comment, I have a funny feeling that you might just get the impression that there are very few subjects I can actually write about.

You see, I intend to return to one of my favourites this time round; one which prompted quite a bit of mail the last time it cropped up, so let's see what happens this time.

No, in case you were wondering, it's got nothing to do with those nasty foreigners that I keep on keeping on about, I DO have a few other subjects you know!

After the huge success of my many culinary editions of this load of old nonsense, we're off to the kitchen again for this month's in-depth investigation into the strange way in which Nick Harvey's world goes round.

Although, having just had another look at the little plate on the back of it and found that it definitely says "Made in the UK", I still rather suspect that the designer might just have come from Japan, so the subject of foreigners might just creep in occasionally.

Well, it wouldn't be fair to deprive you regular devotees of some more of my more bigoted views of the non-English, would it?

I never used to posses one of these things, you see; and, if the period since its arrival is anything to go by, I think perhaps I shouldn't even have let it into my life at such a late stage.

Thank goodness I didn't go out and buy one. It sort-of arrived with 'er indoors, who likes to use it; a type of "get one get one free" bonus offer.

Now, this particular item has got nothing on the amazing chip fryer we were discussing a couple of years back. This one is completely illogical; and what's more the light isn't on the front, it's INSIDE.

When it arrived, there wasn't a spare socket to plug it into, so it was the following day, after I'd installed a few extra sockets, that I first plugged it in.

Having applied some volts to the creature, I found myself looking for the slot where you put the video tape in. I decided that it MUST be a video recorder because all it did when I first plugged it in was to keep flashing "00:00" at me.

About half an hour later, I'd finally managed to press every one of the sixteen buttons at least three times and "14:23" appeared as the legend in the little  window.

In the process of programming the time into the damn thing, I at least discovered that none of the buttons said "rewind" or "frame shuttle forward", so the chances were that it wasn't actually a video machine.

There is a button called "one minute start", but I doubt if anyone would want to only record for one minute, so perhaps I was right in my assumptions up to this point.

Now, where were we before I wandered off into the joys of programming the time in? I get so easily distracted as you well know. I just can't stand things that flash messages at me. I just have to stop them doing it and tell them whatever it is they want to know.

Oh yes, the light in this infernal device, that was the subject for Nick Harvey's Comment this time round wasn't it?

As I said right back at the beginning of this month's exciting edition, the light's inside on this particular model, but it's far more illogical than you could possibly imagine.

I've started from the assumption that the purpose of the light is so you can see what's going on inside, a bit like a fridge, but the more I think about it, the more I convince myself that I'm wrong.

I mean, when you open the fridge door the light comes on, doesn't it? It's obviously so you can see which can of lager has the earliest sell-by date on it.

I've never actually sat in the fridge to check, but I've always assumed that when you shut the door the light goes off again to save your electricity bill from going through the roof.

Now, with fridges, I'm sure most of you will agree that it's all quite logical. The light is on when you need it, and goes off again when you don't.

But meanwhile, back at this thing which isn't a video recorder. Oh yes, please remind me to ask her what it is before we finish, because I'm still rather confused on that point. What really matters is that SHE can use it, that's all that's important.

Well, it IS in the kitchen. What on earth is the point of me working out the complexities of the equipment in there? I mean, I'm a bloke, I'm not going to actually DO anything in there am I?

I'm sorry about this, dear readers, there may be a pause for a couple of minutes at this point; as my ribs seem to have somehow just collided with her elbow. Now, I wonder why on earth that happened?

Right, we're okay to continue now, I've sent her off to get on with the ironing.

Now, this device with the light inside. When the door's shut the light is off. Quite good so far I thought. But when you open the door the light's still off. Odd, I thought to myself. When you shut the door and switch it on, the light comes ON. However, as you switch it on the door locks shut.

So here we are, with the light on and the door firmly closed to all prying fingers. Okay, so if I can't get my hand in to do anything inside, what the hell's the point of the light being on so I can see what's happening in there?

Nothing's happening anyway. It's just like the old Sunday Night at The London Palladium shows from my younger days, the stage thing inside is just going round and round.

Perhaps it IS a sort of video entertainment system? Should I cut out a cardboard Bruce Forsyth or Norman Vaughan and let him go round and round on the revolving bit while the light shines down on him?

Trouble is, the picture quality's pretty awful. They've put this mesh stuff all over the glass in the door so you can't see in properly, even WITH the light on.

It was while I was working on this theory of it being for some kind of entertainment, that I actually found out what it really does do.

I decided the back of the inside looked a bit drab for Brucie or Norm to stand in front of, so I decorated it with some cheese plant leaves which I somehow had to hand. Now, when you switch it on, the leaves sort-of boil and bubble to themselves.

In fact, after about an hour in there, they completely decompose, so it's obviously some kind of waste disposal unit. I've managed to get rid of the whole of the cheese plant in it now. It really is very efficient.

It's also quite good for getting rid of the neighbour's cat; although Morgan, as this strange feline is called, did look a bit distressed while he was going round and round under the light.

I just still can't quite follow the logic of the light though. On the assumption that the thing WAS designed in Japan, perhaps they've got some strange religion that makes it essential that you see your unwanted things decompose before your eyes.

Perhaps having the light on helps the moth-eaten moggy to go to heaven, or something like that?

The other option must be like on the chip fryer. Perhaps it's as simple as the light just indicating that the thing's turned on? I'm sure there can't be any other reason for it being there.

They really ought to provide a small hole in the door so you could shove a poker or something in and stir up the contents a bit. Might make the decomposition a bit quicker.

Whatever the logic or otherwise of the light, I still think I was quite happy without one of these infernal contraptions.

I think I must now been forgiven for my earlier remarks because she's just popped in and told me that it's actually something called a microwave cooker. That's funny, I'm sure I never noticed the moggy hold up a paw and give me any little waves before his fur started making those little sparks.

I'm now being told that you cook things in it. My goodness, boil-in-the-bag will never be the same if you can't fill the whole kitchen with steam for twenty-five minutes. I gather you just pop the bags in this thing for about four minutes. No fun at all!

I suppose if she really wants to cook in it, then I'd better try to scrape all the bits of cheese plant leaf and cat guts off the inside.

Well, the next great, in-depth analysis of some subject of great import to the world will be at the beginning of September, that's assuming I'm not too busy programming the time into some other new gadget which has appeared in the happy home.

I'm going next door for a few minutes, now. I think I need to have a little discussion with her about her pussy. Right, I'm off, where's me cook book?

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