Thursday, 25 September 2008

Gadgets

Most people have their favourite gadget. One person will rave about his potato-peeler, another about some attachment to his penknife. Me – I have a built-in resistance to them all and even hate the word.
It seems to have originated in the nineteenth century – in other words it seems to be a product of The Industrial Revolution and that suggests to me some minor Telford or Brunelesque figure tinkering about in the Ironbridge Gorge, inventing this and that so that he can enjoy himself smelting or forging or fettling or whatever it was they did to iron in those days, in order to make tiddly little things ostensibly to help the user take some of the difficulty out of everyday tasks but really just a vehicle for enjoying himself.
I wonder how they thought of the word. To me it sounds to be made up of two words. First of all “gad” - to go about from place to place hoping to find pleasure or enjoyment. Well that fits in with my minor Telford, doesn't it – tinkering with a bit of this and a bit of that and creating some dinky thing. Then there's the “get”. Well in the nineteenth century it probably meant “you really must get this or that.”But now I like to think of it as “jet” spelt j e t. for example, whizzing about from A to B at breakneck speed.
Well that image, for me, fits in very well with the modern, present-day equivalent of the tinkering telfordite – the Sunday Supplement Editor. He spends lots of money and bags of time producing a glossy magazine full of ads for gadgets that look really inviting on a wet Sunday afternoon when you are lying on the rug, still in your jim-jams, eating from a box of choccies and sipping a good red wine – and looking for something to spend your money on.
I once bought a hard-boiled-egg slicer – excellent for posh salads until it came apart as I dried it and one part shot up in the air and fell behind the kitchen dresser, where it resides to this day (if you saw the size of my dresser you would know why I never move it).
An egg-poacher was another gadget I bought. Well it made lovely Gordon-Ramseyish round, neat eggs which sat beautifully on half a muffin rather than drape over it like a piece of ancient Nottingham lace as it had done in my “poach in a saucepan “days. But have you ever tried washing up an egg poacher? The dish washer completely ignores it, sending it out with bits of congealed egg smelling of dish washer detergent stuck to it. The washer up dons rubber gloves and gives violent exercise to a brillo pad in an effort to remove the detritus. Use it again? No thanks – anyway I love old lace.
And then there was the foolproof gadget for fixing a garden hose to the outside tap. Foolproof? I hear you ask. Well I can tell you this fool got drenched when gadget and tap parted company in mid-flow. The angle of the parting projected a jet of ice cold water directly on to my expensive Saks hairdo – done that morning. You see now, dear reader, why my present hairdo is a Saks Poor Relation – for who in their right mind wants to wash fifty pounds worth of cutting, styling and blowdrying out in the time it takes to turn an outside tap on?
No! Gadgets and I don't mix! Hang on a minute. I've just thought of my favourite gadget after this long ramble. I am very partial to the red “off” button on the TV Remote Control.

8 comments:

Lucy Corrander said...

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Dominic Rivron said...

I cut my own hair with clippers. It takes a lot of stress out of watering the garden. :)

Where did it come from? There's a good Wikipedia article on the word and its possible origins. It's pretty definitely 19th century and might have started life as a placeholder name (like "whatchamacallit"), or it may derive from the french word gachette - part of a gun's firing mechanism.

Pat Posner said...

Oh, I've had baaad experiences with gadgets that are for use with water. Like the outdoor window cleaning thing with extra rods so you can reach the top windows. It also had a bowl-shaped bit of plastic under the brush that was meant to catch drips.
Well, if the rods didn't separate and clonk me over the head as they fell, the big drips of water missed the bowl and ran down my arms instead.

Janice Thomson said...

I went through a spell some time ago of buying gadgets but as you mention they never work for long or there's a catch to them somewhere along the line. Now I don't have any and am quite happy about it :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

No, I'm with you,not much of a gadget person. Well, I do have a nifty little rubber tube thing that was given to me as a gift made for quickly peeling garlic. That really does work like a dream, so maybe that's my one exception.

My favorite big gadget is my Dyson. I absolutely love that thing.

Annie Wicking said...

I don't like gadgets either. The only one I love is my computer, oh and my printer and there again, my camera. I think that's all.

Best wishes,

Annie

Mistlethrush said...

I have fond memories of egg slicers and poachers but agree they are a pain to wash.

My favourite gadget is a swivel-head potato peeler. And when I get out of the kitchen I take a really clever corkscrew with me - corks just glide out of bottles with it (not that I'd ever uncork more than one bottle at a time....)

Crafty Green Poet said...

lol. I'm not good with gadgets either.