Inexpensive and harmless…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s octopus is the one in the sports shop waving six tennis rackets around simultaneously trying to decide which one to purchase.

Hm, we all like gadgets don’t we? There are so many to choose from these days – ah, life, it’s all gadgets and apps! But, he said, reaching for a tattered old book from his bookshelf, things were quite different back in the Britain of the 1950s…
Oh dear, not that again!…
Yes, people made their own gadgets, in fact there was apparently a magazine called the Gadgets Magazine that chaps (I doubt that ladies subscribed) bought eagerly and regularly to see what they could get up to and tinker with in their garden shed/workshop – inventing and making useful and labour-saving devices for use around the home. There was even a handy annual compilation of the best articles from it called The Gadgets Annual which was specially compiled by someone called W. N. Shaw. Would you like to see a photograph of part of the title page dear reader?

Let’s have a quick flick through and pick some articles at random to get a flavour of this erudite work: A Mystifying Mind-Reading Trick With Dice: A Plastic Desk Companion (An attractive gift!); How to Make Threads From Plastic Wood; Drawing Pins as Pot Menders: A Home-Made Grass Rake; Drilling Holes in Tubular Rod; etc.

‘Madge… Madge!…’
‘Where are you dear?’
‘Front bedroom, I’m dusting the pelmets, what’s the matter Albert?’
‘Pelmets?… Where do we keep the sticking plasters?’
‘What have you done now?’
‘Nothing… Where are they?’
‘Kitchen drawer, the left hand one… Have you cut yourself?’
‘No… Oh hello, you needn’t have bothered coming down dear.’
‘What’s the matter? See, here they are – shall I get one out for you?’
‘Thank you Madge… Earlier I was looking for some lycopodium powder.’
‘Some what?’
‘Lycopodium powder dear.’
‘What’s that?’
‘I don’t know, but I had a feeling that we might have some…’
‘Let me look at your hand… No, silly, the other side, your palm!’
‘Aha!… A little sooty burn!’
‘You see dear, it would be a really great illusion for Christmas parties, and such like events.’
‘Have you been reading that silly magazine of yours again?’
‘It’s not a silly magazine Madge, in it there are some very interesting… Ouch!’
‘Stop that! It’s just a dab of ointment!…Oh, is that a blob of candle wax I see on the living room tablecloth?…’
‘Well, it fell over as I was practising my routine and my amusing patter, and as I didn’t have any actual lycopodium powder to hand, I was just doing a dummy run, so to speak…’
Dummy is right Albert!’
‘How’s that feel now?…’
‘Very nice.’
‘And how does this feel?’
‘Oh, that’s very nice too…’

About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
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6 Responses to Inexpensive and harmless…

  1. Sharon Mann says:

    OMG! haha, inexpensive and harmless…there is no mention that you might burn your fingers off.

  2. Sharon Mann says:

    Where is the warning for…you might burn your fingers off!

  3. ktz2 says:

    Now I’m curious about the Mystifying Mind-Reading Trick With Dice, and what is plastic wood? I love this book !

    • Dave Whatt says:

      I don’t know if one can still buy ‘Plastic Wood’ – but as I recall it came in a squeezable tube, it smelled a bit ‘funny’, and it had the consistency of, er, soft cheese – you could poke it into holes and mistakes in one’s woodwork – it would harden in a few hours and could be filed and sanded down later… A ‘must’ for every workshop!…

      • ktz2 says:

        oh that’s known generically as wood filler here.. funny how the same thing is in different words from there to here

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