Sunday, 28 February 2010

In praise of old gadgets

Do you ever think back fondly to an electrical gadget you used to have in the pre-tech age and wish you hadn't sent it to the dump? There was a period when there were electrical gadgets for all kinds of things and our parents had a houseful - then as we got all post-modern and sophisticated we started turning our collective noses up and consigning them to oblivion (or more accurately to landfill).

I was thinking about this as I had my shower this morning: a very laborious process involving the application of plastic carrier bags and bits of elastic to cover the cast on my fractured wrist. A particular challenge is washing my feet - particularly as since falling I'm very unsteady on them. I fondly remember the electric foot bath someone gave me for Christmas but which took up loads of space, then gathered dust in the back of a cupboard till one of my regular clutter-clearing days brought its death sentence. How I wish I had it now.

Another classic, now long gone, is the electric carving knife which my Dad wielded proudly every Sunday lunchtime to make short work of the roast. My MIAMI colleague Clare O'Brien has actually still got one - bequeathed to her by a family friend. It makes a hell of a racket but it cuts meat beautifully and quickly and beats everyone hanging around with cooling plates while someone curses and cuts themselves - or my usual routine of importuning some poor guest to do the honours. No one ever does it willingly - but what man can resist the opportunity to recreate their Texas Chainsaw fantasies on a joint of beef. I had a trawl through the Lakeland catalogue but alas this official rescuer of defunct kitchen tools seems to have eschewed the charms of the electric carver. Doubtless there is now an 'Elf and Safety diktat preventing their sale for fear that child crack gangs will be carving up each other and posting it on Youtube.

As to the once ubiquitous hostess trolley, it was clearly aesthetics rather than function that brought about its demise - and is also causing its rumoured revival - don't tell me all those Retro fashionistas are buying it because they're throwing large dinner parties. My parents swore by theirs - and with five children, it was another stalwart of Sunday lunchtime. Not the most practical use of precious space though - and boy was it ugly. I just came across a website called Hostess Trolley World so someone still loves them!

We never had a teas-made in our house - but my Uncle and Aunt had one - but then they also had beige plastic clip-on trays attached to their armchairs to hold their cups of tea - so a brew was clearly an urgent imperative in their house.

My pressure cooker was one of my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment - but it used to terrify my then flatmates so I stopped using it. I don't know when that found its way to the charity shop? It wasn't to make way for a slow cooker - they passed me by the first time round - although my Mum had one. They are very much back in vogue - but as I work from home anyway I haven't yet seen the point of yet another large piece of kit to find a home for in an already overcrowded kitchen.

What gadgets do you love or wish you could still get your hands on?
Clare F

1 comment:

  1. I used to love my mums old blue and white Kenwood chef with all the attachments;I was most put out when she gave it away to my cousin..grrr!