Iwas born in 1966, from which vantage point next year, 2016, was the unimaginable future. All I knew for certain was that life would be better half a century hence, more exciting and at the very least much more shiny. Back then I expect my hopes for the future involved hover cars, interplanetary travel and digital watches. And credit where it’s due: the digital watches were fantastic.
But I’m older now. Going abroad for my holidays once a year takes it out of me, before I even consider the hassle of interplanetary travel. And I don’t need a hover car. No, what I really want is a bit of help in the kitchen. Proper help of the sort we all had the right to expect would have arrived by now, but which hasn’t. I don’t want a machine to do the cooking for me. I like cooking. But there are a few gadgets which someone somewhere has forgotten to invent. Now it’s the future, it’s time someone dealt with this.
First up I want a fish-bone magnetiser. Bloody obvious idea: it’s a device which first magnetises the bones left behind in fish fillets, and then simply pulls them out so you don’t have to stand over the fillets with a pair of tweezers pin-boning the damn things. I want to be able to stand and listen to the gentle sucking noise each filament-like bone would make as it is pulled from the flesh, and marvel at what a great place the 21st century is for cooks.
I also want a prawn peeler. I saw one once, a brilliant industrial-scale machine which sorted tiny Morecambe bay shrimps, then put them on a miniature ferris wheel so a perfectly calibrated suction device could pull the shells clear. I want a domestic version of one of those, so I don’t ever have to swear again when I rip a shrimp or prawn in half because my fingers are too fat and clunky or I don’t know my own strength.
Perhaps you think I’m over-complicating the kitchen. Well, how about this one, then. I want a safe mandoline. That’s all. A properly safe mandoline. Not one that only slices your hand open once for the 10 times a standard mandoline mutilates you. I want a mandoline that never, ever slices your hand open, however staggeringly stupid you happen to be, because it turns out that life in the 21st century is seriously complicated with lots of distractions. And while we’re at it, can I have a tin opener that sucks out the oil or brine around tuna, so it doesn’t go all over my hands or the work surface every time I open one? No, I have no idea how this will work. It will probably involve tubing and a pump. All the good things do. You work out the details. I’m blue-skying the future here.
But the main thing I want is a self-cleaning hob. A self-cleaning oven is all well and good: turn it up to max and run away while the gunk incinerates. But a self-cleaning hob, especially after I’ve done sausages, or a casserole, or a sausage casserole, would be a serious piece of work. I don’t care if it comes courtesy of a lid with brushes and water jets that you simply close down, or one of those slightly needy-looking robots they were always demonstrating on Tomorrow’s World. Just get it done. The future is here. It’s now. And I’m fed up with cleaning the hob.