Tuesday, 19 January 2010


Since breaking my arm on Christmas Eve, I’ve become a little more aware of the problems people have when they are (even temporarily) incapacitated in some way.

I had no idea that even for the simplest of tasks one needs two functioning arms / hands. It’s been a little while - in fact, not since I gave up sitting in a highchair - since someone has had to cut up my food for me!
But take packaging: dishwasher tablets for some reason these days come in little individually wrapped packets. Try opening them with one hand without a) nothing much happening at all except a very frayed temper, or b) ending up with the contents shooting across the kitchen and then disintegrating in a powdery mess all over the floor.
I had great fun (and I hope the Vicarage windows were closed) trying to dispose (again one-handed) of a large box brim-full of lurid green polystyrene chips used to protect a consignment of candles sent to the parish by a well-known ecclesiastical supplier. For the last three weeks it’s been impossible to open a can, and as for the ability to unwrap even the simplest of modern supermarket foodstuffs, well, the less said the better.
For the sake of those who are not quite so ably bodied as the rest of us (or simply those who are not so strong, the elderly for example and those who have arthritic conditions of one kind or another) can’t we simplify things and make them more accessible? Is it beyond the ingenuity of the marketing men to get things tested now and again to see if they can be opened by, say, Horatio Nelson as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger? We have an obsession with recycling (the secular means of atoning for our consumerist “sins”) but surely the better solution in the first place is not to use so much unnecessary stuff which needs to be recycled.

Of course, our world has an unhealthy obsession with things being well-presented and prettily packaged, and I’m not now only talking about food and consumer goods.
The difficulty with all this, is that the packaging may turn out to be good deal more impressive and attractive than the content. There’s a lesson there somewhere for all of us, not only those pictured below!

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