Laterally Speaking

As I write, Christmas is fast approaching and it’s time once again for all those seasonal gift offers and leaflets to come flooding into our homes—offers galore to buy loads of cheap Xmas tat that you never knew you needed until someone wrote you an email or squeezed a brochure through your letter box telling you all about this ‘new super scam’ product. A couple of years ago, I wrote an article suggesting some unusual but imaginary gifts that might have been successful (‘Meercat door knobs’ or ‘Xmas decorations for cows’), but unfortunately none of these were ever taken up by manufacturers. I feel this was a wasted opportunity, so I’m going to try again with another list of lateral gift suggestions since the world is facing a new set of topical issues and environmental questions that need urgent answers. Here’s my 2015 list of items I’d like to buy if anyone made them available.
R3—the Rubbish Recycling Robot
Probably the single most important domestic appliance ever… but nobody has yet invented it. I don’t know about you, but much of my kitchen time is now spent sorting out the plastic cling film from the haddock-soaked paper wrapping and putting 200 day old tomatoes into the special ‘food waste caddy’ while also removing the tin foil to the recycling bin from the very dead chicken carcass which will continue to fill the kitchen with noxious odours until next Wednesday when it gets picked up. This is such an important subject that I’m going to write a complete article about it in the New Year. Modern life revolves around a new set of vital daily decisions… should I wash out this smelly empty bag of frozen chips before placing it in the recycling container? Or does it go into the ‘good for nothing but landfill’ rubbish box because it contains 25% polystyrene? And if so, which 25% goes where?
You need (perhaps we all need) R3—this wonderful new robot device that looks like a washing machine and immediately solves all of these questions for you. You simply load everything into the big hole in the front – dirty paper plates, smelly nappies, half empty tins of dog food, plastic detergent bottles, polythene tubs of stinky smoked mackerel pate, out of date ‘eat by’ ketchup in a glass bottle and a seemingly endless load of plastic trays which may have once held meat, fruit or veg (impossible to tell except by smell). Within ten minutes, it’s all sorted into four different piles of waste. Voila! I want one of these very badly, but I fear it might be quite expensive.
DataSpray—‘Broadband in a Can’
Do you enjoy the promised umpteen megabits of broadband or do you (like so many others) struggle to stay online as a mere trickle of bits and bytes crawls down your fibre or copper pipe? How many times do you manage to catch the first 10 minutes of your favourite BBC iPlayer programme, only to find your stream suddenly reduced to a slow moving sludge of data when schools break up at 4pm? The slow rotating ‘circle of death’ revolves at the centre of your screen as your laptop or mobile phone tries desperately to catch just one more frame of video. But no – you’re doomed to a digital drought unless, that is, you’ve bought a tin of ‘Broadband in a can’!
When data gets sticky, just one short spray of purified data from this aerosol can will clear the air and restore your download for about 3 minutes so you get to see who’s been fired in The Apprentice! Warning: it can get very expensive as you will have to use a dozen cans or more if you watch a whole episode, but—hey—sometimes all you need is a short but vital burst of clear video to prevent unnecessary worry and sleepless nights.
Devon-in-a-box—‘You can get it to them if they can’t get to you’
The ultimate gift for those London and urban based old friends and relatives who – despite telling you so many times that they would love to come down and see you in ‘darkest’ Devon—never seem to be able to find the time to actually do so. Their loss, of course, but it would still be nice to stay in touch with them even if they are possibly now so stuck-up and city orientated they are almost on a different planet. Hence the perfect gift to send them this Christmas: Devon-in-a-box. Containing freeze-dried scones, cream and strawberries plus some replica ammonites from Seaton, a token slice of dried Dartmoor and some slightly risqué postcards from Budleigh Salterton, this superb collection will show your friends just what they’ve been missing all these years…
The iPhoney—‘If you can’t make it, you can fake it’!
Are you embarrassed to show your friends how out of date and uncool you really are? For just a fiver, you can buy this upgrade pack of plastic bits and pieces from iPhoney. Insert the new back onto your existing android or old Apple phone and stick on the logos, plastic facia and buttons. Your phone will then look just like a brand shiny new iPhone 6S—the latest and greatest iPhone, so you can show off to everyone. Don’t be a digital dinosaur! Get an iPhoney quick before Apple wakes up to this scam and sues you for copyright infringement!
Packet of Wind-Farm Seeds—‘Home Grown Power from the Soil’
Produced with over 40 years of extensive research and genetic modification, these simple lettuce seeds have been transformed into tiny energy production units. Plant them in rows 10cms apart at the bottom of your garden and, within only 4 months, they will grow into a complete miniature wind farm capable of generating 10 million watts per square metre (see picture). No public outcry until they are fully grown by which time it’ll be too late for anyone to do anything about it and you’ll be supplying half of Crewkerne’s electrical needs. Please note that if rabbits are allowed access to your modified crop, power generation will be lower than previously advertised.