Shopping on-line has somehow become a bit of a guilty pleasure, with more than a hint of obsession thrown in alongside. Therefore, I was pathetically ecstatic when a new pair of kitchen scissors arrived, courtesy of Amazon. I don’t know what happened to the last pair. Or the pair before that.
Or even the pair before that! I could go on. Kitchen scissors seem to have a knack of disappearing without trace in our house. I rather suspect they get thrown out in a frenzy of floral arrangement off-cuts when we are being uber creative with nature! Some get lost in the garden. Some genuinely break. But usually they just seem to disappear into the ether.
Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, or do manufacturers these days deliberately encase their products in super-tight plastic wraps and hermetically sealed packs which virtually defy access? The kitchen scissors for example needed a second pair of scissors to cut through the pain-in-the-butt Perspex packaging - which leads me morbidly to sticking plasters!
Now, back in the day, sticking plasters used to be really accessible. The top brands came in easy to open tins and flip top boxes which you could quickly break into. The plasters themselves were also ready to go, loose, and on a finger with the deft removal of two, simple to peel back protector strips. These days, plasters are individually sealed and as difficult to open as shucking oysters.
Some plasters have little blue cotton strings attached which supposedly expel the entire plaster with a quick yank. Invariably that never works. Others have secret little tabs hidden in sneaky corners, which are easy to see if you’ve got all the time in the world, along with a magnifying glass, to examine their ‘dynamics’ prior to an extreme emergency.
They also have these new-fangled, virtually see through plasters which come with an additional, removable seal on the back which you remove once the invisible plaster is actually in place. If you can see it that is!
I know all this first hand, as the new kitchen scissors I ordered were extremely sharp, and I managed to snip the tip of my thumb instead of snipping the chives. It’s amazing how much blood comes from a finger! So, looking a bit like Stephen King’s Carrie at the homecoming prom, I struggled to keep the wound closed with one hand, whilst cursing and fiddling with plasters that refused to come out and play, with the other. I fully appreciate that plasters are super-sealed for hygienic reasons but there are limits!
On the subject of breaking and entry, the other day it took me ten minutes to get into a bouquet of supermarket broccoli which had seemingly been ‘cling wrapped’ by aliens, using an extraterrestrial, indestructible plastic film which, when under attack, developed a life of its own and refused to release its prize!
Fingers proved futile in the assault, so I ended up hacking through the armoured wrap with a knife, destroying half the contents within. Then the alien cling-wrap refused to go into the waste bin, and attached itself to the edge of the liner, ripping a huge and inconvenient hole in the refuse bag just as I was about to pop it outside. I only wanted to steam some brassica for lunch, not go three falls or a submission with a length of industrial strength, Martian cling-film!
The same thing happens with those handy milk cartons you buy in packs of six from the supermarkets, wrapped and super-sealed in snug, bomb-proof plastic. Other Half recently went for one such pack with a Stanley knife, and ended up slashing through two cartons before releasing a usable pack for our afternoon tea! The remaining cartons seemed to shrink back under attack, and became even more tightly packaged within their plastic overcoat.
Struggling to get your purchases open is often the equivalent of an aerobic session at the gym. If you want a really intense workout, I suggest you try buying a jumbo jar of pickled cucumbers from Lidl. The pickles are simply the best, but you need two big lads and a monkey wrench to open the jar. My mother used to up-end jars, and bang them quite heartily on the kitchen worktop if they refused to open.
“Releases the air,” she proclaimed. Her method also released most of the grouting on the tiled splash-back when I took her advice and smashed my way round the kitchen trying to get the lid off my pedantic pickles. Another of mother’s ‘top tips’ was to rest stubborn jars, bottoms up, in hot water for ten minutes before the worktop whack!
But the most irritating thing about a wilful jar is when someone else comes along after you’ve struggled for half an hour with various methods, and ‘pffffttttt!’ the jar miraculously opens in their virgin hands. This success is usually followed by much flexing of macho muscles by the said ‘opener’, after you have done all the preliminary work of loosening the culprit in the first place.
Plastic egg cartons also take their place amongst the cast of ‘mission impossibles’. I recently picked up a dozen eggs from the supermarket wrapped in military-strength plastic packaging which literally needed the army itself to gain entry. It would have been easier to open a crab’s bum with a bus ticket! I broke three eggs trying to lift the super-sealed lid, so the purpose of encapsulating such fragile produce in uber-resistant wrap defies all logic and reason!
Ring-pulls on cans are another testament to patience. Ring-pulls are fine when they work (and they usually do) but sometimes they just don’t, and the ‘ring’ comes off with the ‘pull’, leaving the cautious can sitting there in silent insolence. In the absence of a tin opener you need to get creative and reach for the toolbox, which usually results in the contents being spilled all over you.
Of course if it’s a can of fizzy drink then the outcome speaks for itself!
Even opening a packet of innocent biscuits can be tricky. Biscuits used to have little tabs to pull, which opened the end of the packet along a dotted line.
A lot of the biscuits we buy these days still have the dotted line, but it’s just printed on the packet for show, and has no bearing whatsoever on easy opening. The packets are again super sealed and the contents risk getting shattered in the ham fisted and frustrating attempts to get at the goodies inside.
If you are reliant on reading glasses for close work, then you will also appreciate the humour behind opening a new CD or DVD. The tightly sealed wrapping is virtually invisible to the human eye, and usually has to be sliced open with a surgeon’s scalpel while trying hard not to deface the plastic cover or take off another finger!
Then, once inside, you are left with the challenge of ‘popping’ out the CD by pressing the cleverly designed centre holding button, while the disc clings like a limpet and refuses to come out and play.
Bring back vinyl, I say. But then they already have, haven’t they? And guess what? They are all hermetically sealed in indestructible, impenetrable cellophane!