On 8th September 2018 an article by Bethan Bell appeared on the BBC News website. The article explained that Professor Deborah Sugg Ryan of the University of Portsmouth, who is well known for her appearances as an on-screen expert, inluding the BBC television series A House Through Time, had identified fifty former must-have household products likely to pass from the category of useful and even luxurious to that of pointless and old-fashioned. Here’s her list:
Incandescent bulb, rotary dial telephone, answering machine, telephone table, Yellow Pages, donkey stone, vinyl record player, radiogram, cassette tape/player, VCR, cathode ray tube TV slide projector and slides, photograph album, cartridge games consoles, Ghetto blaster, camcorder, Gameboy, Walkman, carpet sweeper, electric bar fire, service hatch, hostess trolley, Household Wants Indicator, solid fuel cooking range, meat safe, copper, washing dolly, washboard, mangle, twin tub, flat iron, laundry blue, washing-up soap, rotary egg whisk, hourglass egg timer, pull-tab can, Mouli food mill, balancing scales, gas-powered iron, Compactum wardrobe, electric Teasmade, fax machine, flash cube, typewriter, floppy disk, dial-up modem, pager, personal digital assistant, daisywheel printer.
Bethan argued quite forcibly that advances in technology do not always go hand-in-hand with enjoying life. She proposed a shortlist of products which were due for a comeback. The teasmade was in pole position. Here are her comments:
The classic Goblin Teasmade is probably the best-known of these little gems that cater for our obsession with a nice cup of char before emerging from beneath the eiderdown. The original gas-powered automatic tea-making apparatus was patented by Samuel Rowbottom in 1891. It included an analogue alarm clock, which triggered the mechanism to boil the water, using the steam to force the water down a tube into a teapot. Electric versions became available in the 1930s, with some including a lamp. By the 1970s the Teasmade had reached iconic status – at one point it was estimated that two million British households had one. Admittedly, most of us now own electric kettles and do not need to tiptoe downstairs in the cold and dark to light the kitchen range before waiting for our water to boil, but nothing compares to having a piping hot brew ready at the bedside.
Bethan’s other suggestions to rescue from the list were the Compactum wardrobe, the Easiwork dresser (I used to have one of those), the hostess trolley, and the carpet sweeper.