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.