Keep Aunty Mavis out of the kitchen

Today it’s November 17th, which means that there are only 38 days until Christmas Day, which means in 37 days and 12 hours millions of men across the country will be piling into department stores to start their Christmas shopping. I know, I’ll probably be one of them.

Whilst women scorn this genetically-programmed lack of planning, there are numerous benefits. With all of the women safely at home doing last minute wrapping, the aisles are free from people actually looking for something specific. A woman, you see, will only enter a shop if she knows what gift she is looking for. Her brain will be running a littany of algebraic equations to work out the best price in relation to the gift received from the recipient last year. Her eyes will be scanning every shelf for offers, emergency alternatives whilst words appear before her eyes like Robocop or The Terminator. Men, on the other hand will work with a completely different efficiency: How little distance can I travel into the shop, how quickly can I get out again, how few shops can I actually need to go in? All in all, this ends with a man buying a last-minute gift well-beyond his predetermined budget aimed solely for the benefit of its recipient. Perfume in other words.

The real danger, however, is neither of these shoppers. It’s the planners.

The planners of the gift-giving world are those for whom Christmas shopping starts on December 27th. The ones who buy their Christmas cards in January sales. The ones who will buy soap in March and think, ‘that’ll be great for Nick’s Christmas present’. The ones who buy gifts for the milkman, the postman, the doctor who dealt with Uncle Lucy’s bunyans in 1982 and the people they lived next door to in 1972, who may not necessarily be alive let alone still living at number 64.

To this end, can I categorically state now: I like my blender, coffee maker, toaster and doughnut maker, but please don’t give me any more kitchen gadgets.

A brief look online reveals a cataclysm of kitchen-tack. Mugs are a big market. Every house in the country has at least 12 times as many mugs as occupants, and you’d need a teapot the size of Canary Warf to put them all into use. I think the world could stop making mugs entirely and we’d still never be short of something to serve coffee in. Yet you can buy mugs you can write on in chalk, mugs which tell you whether or not the contents are hot (can you not just touch it?) and a mug with a crossword on it that even someone with the IQ of a kiwi fruit couldn’t possibly enjoy completing twice in a lifetime.

Add to this a variety of other delectable novelties. There’s the little plastic man who looks like Tony Hart’s ‘Morph’ that you can keep you knives in like an unfortunate rambler with a Bill Oddie-like appearance who finds himself in the Bronx. There’s the electric, yes electric, wine breather which claims to be the world’s first device that can do two hours’ breathing in 2 minutes. There’s the toaster-poacher, which toasts bread whilst poaching an egg. There’s a myriad of masterful egg cups, magnetic bottle-openers, battery-operated can crushers. All before you even get to sporks.

The world isn’t getting smaller because of the internet and global communications – it’s because so much of it is filled with unecessary kitchen appliances given as gifts. Thousands of acres of greenbelt are taken up by housing developments so that people can move to bigger homes because Aunty Noreen has given them another fondue set. I wouldn’t be surprised if estate agents and home-builders weren’t funding these kitchen gadgets. There are 60m people in Britain, and I would bet Surrey on the fact no more than a dozen of them have used a fondue set since 1978.

Think about it. Is there a kitchen in the land which has space in its cupboards? Go to a friends’ house and you’re forbidden to open a kitchen cupboard – they’re all crammed full to the top with dusty clutter and faded boxed gadgets. With every house expanding in a linear fashion, you’ll pretty soon be able to walk to Boston on a bridge of fondues, bottle-stoppers, electric corkscrews and grills. Sea levels aren’t rising because of global warming, it’s just the only place the human race has found to hide their unwanted kitchen appliances. Gordon Ramsey’s ‘F-word’? It’s fish – they’ve got all the appliances and utensils down there and he’s jealous.

So, people of the world let’s make an effort to save it. Ring your Aunty Mavis now and tell her that you just want some socks. Tell Granny Betty that you just want a donation to charity and a plant pot. Stop the Christmas-gift planners and make the world a better place, and you kitchen will feel bigger for it.

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