Time to take Ol' Reliable down from his perch on the kitchen surface. As microwaves go it was a simple beast. Put your food in, select a cooking time... Three minutes?... Yes, let's try three minutes. If I see steam building up I know it's time to cut the power early. How simple is that? No complicated programming or indeed any intrinsic knowledge of cooking required. Just hot food, on demand.
There can be no sentimentality in the cutthroat competition of consumer electronics. Ol' Reliable has served his time and the gleaming replacement awaits it's chance to shine, and very impressive it looks. Oh... Hang on... This has loys of heiroglyphs all over it. Ahhh, now, you see, this might be a bit more complex. Time then to swallow my pride and read the instruction manual. Please don't tell anyone I did that. Men aren't supposed to read instrucion manuals. It's why army NCO's have to shout at recruits you see.
The list of do's and don'ts is a bit alarming. Apparently I can wreak havoc if the microwave is not used properly. I stand a real risk of being crispy fried, mutated, or spending the rest of my life glowing a shade of neon green. Okay. I get the message. Surely somewhere in the packaging is a rotating amber beacon to fix to the roof so that everyone within cooking distance of the kitchen is alert and stands well back.
Don't laugh. This device is the most powerful microwave I've ever come across. It probably registers on orbital satellites searching for astronomical anomalies. So if you're a professional astronomer and you can't figure out that strange blip on the screen - Sorry, I was hungry. It isn't proof of intelligent life on other planets. So if you've already made that hysterical phone call to the President, you might want to start thinking about a career break.
Well, no point being afraid of it. Switch on - and the machine gives me a cheerful bleep to tell me that it's primary defence mechanisms are armed and awaiting the ignition code. Put my food in... Now what buttons do I press? I have a horrible feeling this microwave was designed for people who know what they're doing in the kitchen. Let's not get clever. Tune the power down to what Ol' Reliable was and try... Three minutes? Yes. Let's try three minutes...
Wait For It... Wait For It...
The three minutes went by and no steam rose from the plate. With my former oven, that meant it was still cold. Yet when I try this one I find... The food has been thoroughly re-cooked to the point of being completely inedible. Since there's no Lady Rail to shout at me for being a klutz, I have no choice but to curse and pick up the instruction manual again. Somewhere in this document is the secret of succesful cooking...
No. This is too hard. Looks like it's a takeaway tonight then. Am I already too old to operate consumer electronics successfully? No, I can't accept that. It's too much of a blow to my self worth. I'll figure the microwave out eventually. Therefore I've set the scheduled date for completion of this goal to December 2012.
Just lately there's been a billboard outside local newsagents proclaiming that the council are planning cheap car parking. Can you imagine that? Obviously since no-one survives parking in Swindon anymore, no-one stops to shop. The other day I was at the check-out of the supermarket when the lady behind the till looked outside and mentioned that some person was about to get booked by a warden.
Funny that. Cars used to be a status symbol, now it's a ststus symbol if you can park safely.
In the meantime, roll up, roll up, get your car parking spaces here. Kids at half price. All day family specials. Open all weekend. See real wild traffic wardens prowling in their natural enviroment (Please do not feed).