Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Useless Things

I was sorting through some pictures I took in New Zealand last year when I came across a photo of several used, one litre, plastic Coke bottles filled with water sitting in someone'€™s front garden.

It took a minute or two to recall why I had captured that particular image, until I finally remembered ...

People in New Zealand think that used plastic Coke bottles filled with water scare unwanted cats away from their gardens


And then I remembered a little game I came up with after seeing those bottles. The idea was to pick out the very best of the vast array of useless things that fill our daily lives. Objects and concepts with absolutely no functional utility whatsoever. I toyed with the game for a short while, got bored and forgot about it. However, what with the prospect of another five years of Labour government I think I might just resurrect the concept. So far, I'€™ve come up with three general categories of uselessness ...

1. Useless Remedies

- Plastic coke bottles filled with water to scare cats
- Acne Cream
- Those little rubber strips that hang off the back of some cars to prevent motion sickness, or is it lightning strikes. I don'€™t know.

2. Sh*t we don'€™t need

- Detergent blocks that turn toilet water blue
- That curious British habit of putting a plastic bowl inside their sinks
- Books of condolence

3. Illusions of comfort or security

- Lifejackets on airliners
- '€˜Close door'€™ buttons on lifts/ elevators
- '˜I want to cross'€™ buttons on pedestrian crossings (round my way anyway)
- London cycle lanes

There's probably a Phd thesis in here somewhere, comparing the similiarities between ancient and modern talismans and superstitions but there's no money in it so, personally, I can't be bothered to take that line any further.

And OK, it'€™s a short list at present but I haven't been thinking about it for very long and it will grow. I'€™ve just spent two minutes taking a mental walk from my front door to Oval tobe station and come up with two new ones. Try it for yourself, just walk around for a short while looking for uselessness and you might be delightfully surprised at your bounteous harvest.

Surprisingly, the attack on Afghanistan, the invasion of Iraq, compulsory identity cards and the like do not figure in the draft list; on the basis, they are actually quite useful things, just not for the reasons we'€™ve all been told.

Please feel free to contribute.


Noel said...

· Fire drills (If the alarm rings, fuck off. Surely we don’t need to practice this.)
· 4x4s (Just buy a fuckin station wagon for gods sake)
· Celiene Dion
· Belgium
· The 6 O’Clock news (All the new you’ve heard all day presented by a person paid more than the PM)
· The person at Bunnings who ‘Greets’ everyone at the door (I’ve come to an unheated warehouse to buy incredibly cheap hardware made by children in Chinese sweatshops. Please, don’t want personal contact.)
· Rolleston
· Everything ever sold in an infomercial
· The UN
· Car park lights (Leave your car parked with your park lights on. Brilliant!)
· Till receipts for takeaway food (Unless I have a expense account, what the hell am I meant to do with these? - Excuse me this pie has a rats foot in it. Sorry sir unless you have a receipt I can’t do anything.)

Stef said...

Now why do I get the impression it didn't take you too long to come up with this list?

I must confess that Rolleston was new to me. I just did a quick google search and saw an image entitled 'Coal Train at Rolleston' which, I think, gave me some idea where you're coming from.

Agree with most of the list, but given that I like moules frites and Audrey Hepburn (though not necessarily in that order) I don't think I'm 100% with you on the Belgium thing. Maybe just 75% ...

'Belgium - a country invented by the English just to annoy the French'

I wish I could remember who came up with that line.

Noel said...

From the NZ Govts own organ "Migration News - The Magazine for new and intending settlers" 2004/2005

“We initially chose to live in Rolleston which is a few km outside of Christchurch because we were able to buy the lifestyle house of dreams which also had a large plot of and”, says Stuart. However, after a year in Rolleston they have decided to move in to Christchurch...

Stef said...

So, I presume you'd recommend Rolleston should I ever get my act together and finally move 'down South' then.

Noel said...


Stef said...

Mmmmm, beginning to run out of small countries with populations in the 4 to 10m range now.
I know! I've just thought of one ...

Noel said...

But surely the scenery?