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.