15 June, 2010


Do we manufacture anything in this country?

Yesterday I found myself needing to acquire one of these:

My sexy new touchscreen phone is supplied with a plectrum. Which is no doubt fine for strumming a guitar but not something I find particularly comfortable for picking out letters on a small virtual keyboard. Like most such devices the screen's surface is soft and likely to damage easily, so I decided to persevere in buying the proper tool and ignored the advice of the well-meaning clown in Ryman's who, after informing me that they did not stock PDA styli, suggested that I acquire a chopstick from a Chinese restaurant and cut it down to size. I kid you not.

I eventually bought what I was looking for, pictured above. A plastic prodding doodah with a tip which is both fine enough to successfully select a small target on the screen while being rounded enough not to risk punching a hole in it.

But why do these overpriced gubbinses come in packets of three?

(Struggles manfully but only partly successfully with temptation to tell old joke about Scottish parsimony which ends with the punchline, "The regiment has decided to have it [the condom] repaired again.")

Apart from this annoying ploy to force me to buy two extra styli that will either never be needed or will lie undiscoverable in the darkest recesses of some obscure and unvisited drawer if ever they are needed, I discovered a further source of irritation when I inspected the packaging:

Is every manufactured object sold in this country made in China? Is this dependency wise? A few months ago I bought a couple of dinner plates. A trivial enough purchase but what took me by surprise was the extent of my joy on discovering that they were not made in China. That these glass heat-resistant plates were manufactured not in the UK but in France dented my feelings of relief very little.

I keep hearing from the Bank of England that printing money doesn't produce a risk of inflation because of the 'spare capacity' in the UK economy.

Spare capacity to make what ?

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