Ward’s World: Comic moments on shopping channels ... by inventor John Ward

Inventor John Ward inspects some junk mail ...
Inventor John Ward inspects some junk mail ...
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I was looking through one of the usual bits of junk mail booklets/brochures that the postie brings as some sort of homage to wearing his boots out.

None what I call “real” mail, like bank statements, or “official notice” of having “won” seven million dollars in a Hawaiian lottery I didn’t enter but I only have to send 700 quid to “release” the prize money (I would prefer the “escape of its own accord” method), or, the hospital appointment you were expecting has been delayed due to unforeseen circumstances ... “Dear Sir, We were hoping you would get better on your own in the meanwhile, but we have not forgotten you as we still tick your box (the one on the sheet) to say we know you are waiting, your illness/ailment is important to us, and a letter will be with you shortly but not this time, however, ,etc.”. Then there are the usual brochures that mainly display assorted backrests, folding walking sticks, pocket things that hang over your armchair arm to hold remotes for the telly, satellite, set-top box, Wi-Fi, Lo-Fi, Stir-Fry, Slow Fly, whatever, but the main portion is taken up with things for the kitchen as in cooking “aids” that, until you read the details related to them, you had no idea you needed such a device or how you have managed without it for so long but once bought, will stand a good chance of appearing at a charity shop or car boot sale thereafter, once you have fathomed out why you didn’t have, or really need one.

Full marks to whoever came up with the idea of suspending a car headlamp bulb over a goldfish bowl with the car heater fan blowing away, and calling it a halogen oven, as that is basically what it is ...

Next comes the humble blender, and these things in appearance can be anything from missile control stations to the actual rocket in shape, but when it all comes down to it, you sling your bits in and switch on and watch for a few brief seconds, or hours if you forgot to take the coconut out of its shell first, as it reduces it all to either mush or slurry, depending on your level of education, but the prices range from modest to the top of the range.

Full marks to whoever came up with the idea of suspending a car headlamp bulb over a goldfish bowl with the car heater fan blowing away, and calling it a halogen oven, as that is basically what it is – but to be honest, they do work, but once again, the price range seems to go from the bog standard Simple Peasant model to the Staggeringly Expensive job.

If it’s high comedy you are after, these devices are a joy to be seen being demonstrated on the assorted television or online shopping channels, as to hear all the most wondrous statements made about them is a real mind-boggler and I do like to see them – it’s better than watching those bits between the adverts on normal telly – as they usually have half a dozen on the go, as in a sort of progress thing like the “and here’s one I did earlier” malarkey of years gone by, as you can’t stand about polishing your nails while waiting, say, for a yak to be cooked, as you get to see that the beast’s left leg is simmering away in one and the gravy is bubbling and burping away in another, then there’s another with indescribable things “cooking” in it that bear no resemblance to anything grown in the ground or reared in a field. All with the presenter babbling away to the camera that these devices are the best thing since buttered crumpets; the look on their faces as they taste something cooked in one is quite stunning, regardless, he/she has one, they never use anything else in their kitchen (until three days later and are back singing the praises of another, similar device) and stock is getting low, so get on the phone and call now, to order yours, and be the envy of all your friends or social worker.

Another item I thought had all but vanished of late but it seems not, according to the brochure to hand, that is, the Pilates thing is still going strong as there is a DVD with a step-by-step instruction manual to help you on the way to whatever it’s promising, although you have to supply the human element as in yourself, and no shirking, either.

For the next spellbinding bit, I bring forward my mum, test pilot of and for the people on this one, which combines Pilates and the kitchen in one full measure. Mum was nattering to her friend Monica, and at the time she was leading by four points to two, and Our Mon was explaining her neighbour, newly moved in, was “heavily into doing pilates and was forever at it” – pilates, that is.

Mum took it all in and, after a nanosecond of great thought, asked if she might be better off with one of those dishwasher things that does that sort of thing, but Our Mon said it was pilates and not plates she was on about, and Mum said they were quite good apparently, even if they have patterns on them, although she has never bothered with such things and Our Mon looked aghast and asked: ‘You mean you don’t have a dishwasher?!’ to which Mum replied she had the “all-in model” that did the dishwashing, some of the vacuuming and cleared the table, but he was out at the moment walking the dog and was called Father.

As an aside, he was something of a cook as well – his toast was quite good, once the clinker and ash was scraped off. One moment that went down in the family history was thus: he belonged to a WW2 campaign organisation (our side) that every now and again held reunions and in one instance, the coach broke down bringing him and his comrades back from London where the event was held, and he arrived home gone six o’clock the next morning slightly the worse for wear, and, deciding not to wake the household, he set about making some breakfast. Quietly looking in the fridge, he saw three already-cracked eggs in a bowl and so the idea was scrambled eggs on toast. Later he said that he felt sure he got in about 20 past six that morning, and his friend Ron in the next street sort of confirmed it, as he was in a similar state of ‘worse for wear’ experience to the nearest bottle consumed.

Mum arrived in the kitchen at about quarter to eight that Sunday morning to find him slaving over a hot stove and wondering why it was taking so long to make a bit of scrambled egg and mum pointing out that if he did achieve that minor miracle, by using the three peach halves in juice she left there for something she was making later, then walking on water would be a doddle.

Oddly, I can’t find anything in the present brochure about doing scrambled peaches on toast, or any device to do it with either, so there could be corner of the market crying out for such a device – or not.