Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Please Shut Up

I don't understand why the microwave died. After all, we only used it to cook rice. That's what we bought it for, and it did an excellent job. In fact, it made our lives immeasurably better and saved us more money than I can say.

Before we bought the microwave, the procedure for cooking rice in our house went like this: I would start cooking some rice, the telephone would ring, I would forget about the rice, the smell of smoke would drift through the house to where I was sitting and I would realise that yet another saucepan had bitten the dust.

After we bought the microwave, I would start cooking some rice, the telephone would ring, I would forget about the rice and two weeks later I would find a new life form that had once been rice crawling out of the microwave. Infinitely preferable - and a way of making new and interesting friends (some of my best friends were once rice grains [yes, I am making that part up, before anyone starts signing the committal papers]).

Anyway one day the microwave died. It was then the rot set in (the metaphysical rot, nothing to do with rice this time).

At first, nothing appeared to be different, of course. We bought a new microwave, I started cooking some rice, the telephone rang, I forgot about the rice, all just as normal. But then, not long into my conversation, I was disturbed by an irritating noise, a distant insistent pinging. It was coming from the back of the house. It was actually coming from the kitchen.

I hung up and went to find out what was going on. It was the microwave. It wanted acknowledgment of its successful completion of the rice cooking task. It demanded immediate attention. It refused to be ignored.

I looked at this new possession. I couldn't believe it. I thought I'd bought a labour saving device, but I'd ended up with a nag. There was nothing in the instruction booklet about stopping its bleating. Fed up, we stuck the thing in the laundry, where it was almost inaudible, provided you kept the door shut. It must be some kind of technological aberration, we decided. It was infuriating, but at least it was one of a kind. No other appliance would ever display such bossiness. We could put up with this one crazy little upstart. With relief, we settled back into our untroubled, indolent ways.

Hah. What idiots we were. What fools. That microwave was just an outrider, a warning of what was to come. I look back on our innocence with pity and sorrow, for these days I am surrounded by yelping appliances. Even as I write the house is ringing with their needy cries. With each new replacement due to built in obsolescence another plaintive electronic voice is added to the swelling choir.

The washing up machine screams when it's finished, the washing machine whistles when it's done and the iron squeals until you turn it off. As for the car, it is deafening. It starts clamouring as soon as you get in, before there's even time to close the door, insisting you fasten your seatbelt. As you back out of the drive, it's still having a go at you, introducing another voice which screeches to alert you - just in case you'd somehow changed gears without noticing - to the fact that you are reversing.

Who asked for this? I didn't. What fiend dreamed up these maddening functions. I'm supposed to be the master here, not these heaps of metal and microchips. These things - these inanimate but noisy objects - have got way too big for their (metaphorical) boots. If anyone out there can tell me how to silence even one of these horrible creatures - I mean devices - my gratitude will be boundless, (although taking a sledge hammer to them all is not really a sensible suggestion, in case you were thinking of that). In the meantime, I'm going to go and live in a tent.


  1. Lovely. But maybe, before you invest in (hah!) any more appliances, you should check that they won't be demanding that you acknowledge them every time they complete a task.

  2. Ah, M-H, I see you are a skilled consumer. Sadly, I only aspire to be one, while remaining a hopeless nong.

  3. Ha! Very nice.

    You are like my wife who sticks to newspapers like wasps to jam. Leaving a newspaper open on a work surface is fatal for saucepans.