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The Scrivener: My Saucepan Is Anonymous

…My computer keyboard bears the well known words Made In China. This little message is so common nowadays that we forget about all the other countries which sell us this day our daily bread…

But those imported goods come with user manuals containing language which is more likely to astonish than instruct, as Brian Barratt reveals.

To read dmore of Brian’s inimitable words please click on The Scrivener on this page. And do visit his brain-sharpening Web site www.alphalink.com.au/~umbidas/

At our local shopping centre, we have no less than four of those '$2 shops' which sell all manner of goods cheap and cheerful. An item I bought today is particularly cheerful. It's mainly for making tea. The label tells me that it 'may contains tea leaves'. It also 'may contains perfume or camphor' and 'stew meat and cook soup may contains precious drug or spice'.

It certainly has many uses for a mere $1.50. Mind you, I'm rather curious about how, exactly, to use it: 'Open the lid of the ball in a way of clock wise put the stuff in to the balland then close it tightly in a way of an ti-clock wise.'

If instructions are hard to understand, then first prize must go to my television set's Bedienungsanleitung... Manual de utilizaçao... Bruksanvisning... Navod k pouziti... ah, here it is: User manual. It is in 15 languages. That's fine, but the English section omits vital information about the controls on the front panel. As far as I can work out, the TV set itself was made in Poland.

My computer keyboard bears the well known words Made In China. This little message is so common nowadays that we forget about all the other countries which sell us this day our daily bread. I live in Australia and I'm supposed to support home industry. But the best baked beans come from New Zealand. The same can't be said for all NZ products. A Made In New Zealand electric jug shuffled off its mortal electric coil the day after the guarantee expired.

Being English by birth, I am culturally programmed to love marmalade. Some excellent marmalades are made in Australia but the supermarkets also have their own cheap 'home brands'. A few years ago, I bought some that was Made In Greece. It later disappeared from the supermarket shelves, for reasons I completely understood when I'd tried one jar of it. It was replaced by Made In Denmark, and that Danish marmalade is very good. Not superb, but very good for the money.

When I was a boy, I think we were proud of Made In England but that seems to have disappeared — some of my CD's are Made In UK. Others are Made In EU, wherever that is. My DVD's are in various languages including Italian, German, Swedish, Danish, Spanish, French, Romani and English. Searching the illegibly small print, I can't find any Made In labels so perhaps they're Made In EU, too.

Years ago, I used to buy electric and electronic gadgets. In many cases they were Made In USA and some of those died or become very ill while still young. My Made In USA general purpose kitchen knife with a sharp serrated blade is too blunt to cut cheese so I use the Made In China knife instead. Packeted meals ready for the microwave oven usually have simple instructions, but those on a Made In USA packet bore no relation to what was inside the packet.

My powerful and visually beautiful vacuum cleaner is Made In China but my little carpet sweeper is Made In Germany. That's because the Australian equivalents did not look as though they would last more than a couple of years. My Swiss Army knife with a dozen blades and gadgets at the last count bears the legend Victoria Officier Suisse. I bought it over 45 years ago, before such items were Made In China, or India, or wherever.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go. The time has come for me to open the lid of my ball in a way of clock wise. I must then put some precious drug into it. I'll put the stuff in to the balland before closing it in a way of an-ticlock wise. The picture shows it being dangled in a saucepan, so I'll do that in my Made In... oh dear me, sorry, my saucepan is anonymous.

© Copyright Brian Barratt 2008


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