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Small Ads With Big Consequences

Staff at the correspondence desk are always pleased to receive communications from members of the ordinary public provided that they are well-written, pertinent to the organisation's brief and purposes and well-aligned to the opinions generally expressed here. This one from avid reader Mrs Magda Gurr-Belles is a model of its kind and might reasonably be used as a template by intending future correspondents.


Sight of the recent portrait of Professor Thrupiece set against a backdrop of Classified Ads brought back poignant memories of my own dear father who, though neither a trained Culinary Bio-ethicist nor an alumnus of Alma Mater College, Cambridge nevertheless shared the Professor’s passion for small electrical (as well as non-electrical) appliances of all manner of design, shape and size. Nothing fed this passion more than the arrival of the Sunday newspaper and in particular the several pages devoted to small ads offering the interested reader access to a cornucopia of intriguing products, all of which - for in retrospect very good reason - were “not available on the High Street”. My father was - as the youth of today might inelegantly but not inaccurately phrase it - an absolute “sucker” for the goods on offer.

The ingenious if tricky to handle Thrupiece Toastite. TOP RIGHT - the result as intended; BOTTOM RIGHT - the result as more frequently achieved.

I remember three in particular with what I can only describe as a "measured fondness". The first was a lineal predecessor of what we might now call the sandwich toaster or perhaps the proto-pop-tart maker. It consisted of two small hubcaps joined to two hinged handles and designed to be placed on a standard domestic gas hob. By placing a slice of bread [Wonderloaf in our case!] on one of the hubs, adding a dollop of jam to the middle and a further slice on top, the device could then be closed - resulting in a well-cut round “pie” which could then be heated on the open hob until - as the manufacturers put it - “toasted to a golden-brown” or - in our case - “carbonised into a well-formed small black trolley wheel”. The resultant pie - which could simultaneously break teeth whilst scorching the roof of one’s mouth - was a triumph of the botchers art, meaning that the roasted pie maker soon joined many similar products"banished" by my mother to the back of the kitchen drawer never again to see the light of day.

The Stephanie Bowman Company had no formal relationship with the Threadbone Corporation but was similarly innovative at a time when the public thirst for ingenious ideas was at its post-War apex. Several missteps meant that the Stephanie Bowman Company, unlike the Threadbone Corporation, was not well-positioned to thrive when even more innovative technological opportunities arose.

Undeterred, my father, subsequently purchased a set of Stephanie Bowman paint sweat-based technology slimming under-garments, over which [after several unintended and socially embarrassing “floods”] the family drew a polite veil, followed by a patent home barbering kit, which - designed by an industry insider with little knowledge of the heavy handedness of the average amateur user - managed to turn a plastic comb with a razor blade insert into a scalping tool of no mean efficiency.

Celebrated as Professor Thrupiece’s unfortunate - possibly fatal - encounter with an electrical nasal clipper is, surely the unsung hero of the domestic accident is the home-barbering comb which could remove hair in a trice and an ear almost as quickly. I well remember the fun my brother and I had depilating several of our treasured pets [sometimes accidentally] and, on one occasion, the shrieked of anguish occasioned by our removal of a bumptious cousin’s treasured plait. She and her family - never a favoured branch of the old ancestral tree - made few if any appearances at family seasonal "get-togethers" thereafter ensuring that the comb fulfilled an important function unforeseen even by its ingenious inventors.

Sadly, following an accidental neutering of a neighbours borzoi - the patent no-nonsense quality-assured razor-comb also quickly found its way into a drawer where, to the best of my knowledge, it remained pending my father’s removal to a place of rest.

Such times, such memories, such innocent fun. It seems to me little wonder that without this freedom to express themselves as children - up to and including the sight of significant traumatic injury to others - today’s safety-conscious, accident-averse youth is so supine in the face of government and RDC harassment tactics. Would, I wonder, my father’s generation have shown such willing appeasement or tolerated the anathema CONTRIK-69 restrictions with such abject submission?

Your sincerely

Mrs Magda Gurr-Belles

Long Bredy

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