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October 2008 - Squeaky Clean Edition

Ah, that's much better, I can actually see out now.  I thought I'd better have a haircut before putting fingers to keyboard for this month's exciting epistle, otherwise the whole thing might have been riddled with lots of tiresome typographical errors.

My goodness, that was a bit nasty this early in the proceedings, from the lady on the end of the fifth row.  All right then, more tiresome typographical errors than is the norm, if you really insist.  Huh, I don't know why I invited her!

It was getting to the stage, you see, where the hair was descending over the glasses, a bit like the Safety Curtain at The Theatre Royal in Drury Lane.  Now, you'll be pleased to know, clarity, and the performance, have been restored.

Wow, isn't this a clean keyboard!  I hadn't noticed that earlier, when I couldn't see it properly.  You see, I've been demoted to the pale grey keyboard this month, because 'er indoors is using the nice, new, black one for some hugely important project on the other computer.

Oh yes, madam, Harvey Towers is a two-computer household now.  Well, we've almost always been a two-computer household, ever since we bought our second machine back in nineteen hundred and frozen to death.

We retained the first machine as a spare when we bought the second.  Since then, we've always retained the one before the current one in case of technical difficulties with the current in the current one.

There's nothing currently wrong with the current one, but pecking orders being pecking orders, and 'er indoors' project being of such huge importance, it's you, I'm afraid dear readers, who are being made to put up with prose prepared on a second class computer.

I do, most humbly, apologise for this terrible situation, but it really is completely out of my control.  However, as mentioned above, at least the keyboard's nice and clean on this computer, so there's a good chance this month's edition of Nick Harvey's Comment will be totally suitable for a family audience.

And, talking of ultimate cleanliness, which we just were, what better way than that to introduce you to the subject for in-depth analysis under the jolly old Acme microscope this time round?

Now, perhaps it might be sensible, at this early stage, for me to warn those of you with dishwashers that there might not be much to deeply interest you in the next few paragraphs.  Feel free to read and enjoy, by all means, but please don't blame me if you're faced with concepts you find it totally impossible to comprehend, like the idea of washing up the dishes in the sink.

Have you bought a bottle of washing-up liquid lately, madam?  Have you found it difficult to get exactly the one you require?

At this point, having lost the very top end of the market, the dishwasher users, we are also about to lose the upper middle group as well.  Those are the ones who can afford to use the high quality, high price, branded washing-up liquids that go out at around 1.50 a litre.

For the subject I wish to discuss with you this month, dear viewers, is the very bottom end of the washing-up liquid market, the ones which go out, or used to go out, at around 15p a litre, instead of 1.50.

To say the bottom end has fallen out of this market would be something of an understatement.  In these hard times, of global economic downturn, I get the impression that our great British supermarkets are ripping us off in the 'budget' washing-up liquid department.

A couple of years ago I did some highly detailed investigation into this subject.  The research never made it into the columns of Comment at the time, but it is about to, right now.

My investigations proved that by far the best value for money in washing-up liquids were the budget litre bottles, then retailing at 14p each.

Oh yes, you definitely need to use a considerably larger squirt of the budget brands.  I generously estimated that you need about three times as much of the budget brand to clean the same number of dishes as the famous 'one small squirt' of the most expensive brand, then selling for 1.47 a litre.

But then I started to do the background mathematics to all this research.  If you use three times as much of the cheap liquid, at 14p a litre, then, in the time it takes the posh lady next door to use her litre of expensive stuff costing her 1.47, you'll have used three cheap bottles, at 14p each, costing you 42p.

So, at the end of the day, or the end of the bottle(s), your budget washing up is actually costing you less than a third of what it costs the lady next door.  The budget solution is most definitely the best value for money all round.

And all this is working on the assumption that that the lady next door is even capable of just producing 'one small squirt'.  We all know that most of the users of the expensive washing-up liquids use far too much every time in any case.

The makers of expensive mustard make their money out of what's left on side of the plate uneaten and the makers of expensive washing-up liquid make their money from what's washed down the plughole unused.

Well, dear viewers, that's the background to our exciting subject for this month.  I suppose it's now about time I got round to precisely what I want to have a moan about this time.

Have you bought a bottle of washing-up liquid lately, madam?  Have you found it difficult to get exactly the one you require?  What are the supermarkets up to at the moment?  Where have all the budget bottles of washing-up liquid gone?  Has anyone seen a bottle for less than 20p a litre in the last couple of months?

If you know who's still selling the cheap stuff, then answers please, on the back of a ten pound note to the usual address, so I can go out and buy a stock of about fifty bottles to keep me going for a while.

Whilst all our lovely supermarkets are shouting about which of them is the best one at discounting everything, there seems to be a much nastier sub-plot going on at the same time, but on a different level.

They might be discounting lots of the items in your green and reusable shopping bag (see July 2008 for details, but not till after you've read all of this edition) but they also appear to be discontinuing many of the best value brands which have previously been on the shelves.

It really makes you wonder if some hard-of-hearing, middle management executive misheard the original instruction and went off, half-cocked, on his own little project.

So, even though I might have saved a little bit on the price of my 'buy one get one free' chicken this week, I've lost far more on the fact that the only washing-up liquid now available is disgustingly expensive, compared to the previous 14p a litre price for the own-label brand.

It's all a plot, I tell you, it's all a fiendish plot!  One particular supermarket, not daring to mention the little place by name, is now rumoured to be removing all of its budget brands from the shelves and replacing them with similar, but higher priced, products with stupid new brand names like Mermaid Boy, Country Farm and Barleyfield.

So under which of these wonderful new names am I going to find my litre of washing-up liquid for about 14p I'm forced to ponder?  A pound to a pinch of doggy do says I probably won't find it at all.  I'll be stuck with paying about 50p a litre for the stuff that has all the beautiful packaging but none of the cleaning power.

So there you have it, dear viewers.  Until the ten pound notes come rolling in, telling me where to buy the cheap stuff again, I'm afraid we'll only be washing the dishes on a Sunday.  That'll be the only day of the week we can afford either the washing-up liquid or the hot water.

If you were thinking of popping round to Harvey Towers for a meal in the near future, then I'd recommend you only make it on a Monday; that way you should avoid eating off any dirty plates.

In any case, I reckon Monday will be the only day 'er indoors will have any spare time for cooking, what with this hugely important computing project of hers.  I'm quite getting used to this old, grey keyboard again now, you know.

I'd almost forgotten how much fun it is to work on a slow machine.  Isn't it nice to type in a whole sentence, then lean back in the chair and watch the letters appearing, one by one, on the screen.

Well, having kept my promise from last month and not yet formally welcomed you to this month's edition of Comment, I don't think I'm going to bother with any of the fancy goodbyes either.

I'll simply remind you to be back here, promptly on November 1st for the next load of this old rubbish.  Right, I'm off, where's me budget keyboard polish?

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