Saturday 25 October 2008

Today, we got a new dishwasher. This model has only two controls: a large, round button, and a knob. There are a few lights which indicate what you’ve achieved with your button and knob skills, but that’s it. The knob is surrounded by unintelligible symbols: the sorts of things which, if carved in stone rather than painted on plastic, might be pored over by alien archaeologists in the thirty-third century after human society has been wiped out by zombie apocalypse. Your options seem to be:

  1. Pan in a dish
  2. Bowl in a dish, in a dish
  3. Wine glass and cup in a dish
  4. Wine glass and cup surfing in a dish
  5. Wine glass
  6. Marionette dish suspended at a jaunty angle by its strings

Now, I’ll be a little charitable: I was piling on the sarcasm a bit too heavily, and the marionette dish does actually look a little like it’s a dish in a shower, so you can forgive them for using it as the symbol for pre-rinse. But the other symbols are totally stupid, and the only way you could possibly decipher them is to look at the key. They have had the foresight to include the key on the front panel of the dishwasher: but why not just stick it around the knob and cut out the middle-man?

And why not choose less crockery-orientated icons? All the different programmes are designed to clean your dishes, so why even try to depict cups being washed in an ecologically-minded way? Why not, for quick wash, have a man running, or a hare like you get on lawnmowers? For an eco-wash (currently the wine glass and cup in a dish), why not draw a little planet Earth, or a flower? And, if you really can’t think of a symbol for ‘intensive’ (perhaps Mr Chips* in a hospital bed on life support? He deserves it, the animated twat), why not see my previous point, and write the damn word next to the knob?

Once you’ve switched it to what would obviously be my favourite programme, eco, you can press the big button and, just over two hours later, all your dishes will be sparkling clean. Two hours seems like a mighty long time, and, I thought, it’s proof that the machines are not yet ready to take over the World. But, thinking about it, it would probably take me quite a lot longer than two hours to wash the dishes if all I was allowed to do was splash them, and my fear of evil-machine apocalypse returned with a vengeance as I perused the sparkly dishes and glasses. If this is what it can do with a dishwasher tablet and some water, imagine the terror an army of them could wreak with guns.

* Mr Chips was the loveable yellow character on ITV’s classic guess-the-words-from-the-pictures quiz Catchphrase. As in ‘Say what you see!’ ‘An insufferably smug TV presenter.’

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