The other day a pair of scissors arrived that I had ordered on-line. The only problem was that I needed the scissors to attack and open the hard plastic packaging, held in place by stiff cardboard. My brain tells me that the impenetrability is for safety reasons. My fingers tell me that when I was wielding the knife they came dangerously close to having their ends removed.
It’s not as if it is only hard plastic that sets out to humiliate me. I can quite easily feel outwitted by a humble packet of sweets. Trying to prize my way in may produce bulging blood vessels in my neck and a dramatic rise in the likelihood of a coronary but it doesn’t get the packet opened.
Even speaking to the packet in a friendly way is no help and I end with a manic look and the stigma of failure. I can’t tear off a corner or pull the two sides apart and the perishing scissors are still in their package so, for some reason, I tried the same techniques on the bottom of the bag and – ping. Success. The way to open a bag of sweets, and possibly other comestibles, is upside down even if the blood does rush to your head.
I have been working on a blog suggesting how you might tell the first signs of ageing early signs of ageing. I think I now have a new entry:
‘You know you are getting old when: you have to ask for help in opening sweet packets, pill bottles, jam lids and gin bottles, – and scour the Daily Telegraph for gizmos that will do the job for you.’
I seem to be haunted by packaging recently, scissors apart. A magazine popped through the letterbox encased in a thin plastic cover. My plastic phobia was compounded this time by a struggle to rip off the stuff and, to make me feel even better (not), it was so thin that a child would have managed it with ease.
All of which makes it difficult to open certain packages secretively and say ‘oh, those? I’ve had them in the cupboard for simply ages.’
There used to be a lot more swanky plastic bags specified to such a high quality that they were virtually indestructible. I bought my clothes at a small shop in Tunbridge Wells and their plastic bags were so sturdy that they are still in the loft 15-20 years later, looking after old Christmas Decs.
While I miss the good old plastic days, the Modbury Effect – a small town in Devon that first vetoed plastic bags – has been so widespread that you find ourselves grovelling if you forget to bring your own. ‘I’m so terribly sorry, I don’t know what came over me, please feel free to chastise me in whatever way you think is appropriate. You see what happened was … …’ we leave her/him worrying what the neighbours will say if they see them bringing in alien bags in daylight, especially as they have a message on each side in large capitals ‘I will not forget my bags again’ repeated all down both sides, as if copied out in detention.
So maybe there should be a packaging scale of hardness that you can choose from when ordering on line. E.g.
Macho Packaging. Virtually indestructible. Suitable for big boys only. Bring it on.
Solid Packaging. Good, sturdy stuff. Can be opened by proficient knife wielders.
Wimp Packaging. Flimsy material that can be opened by a strong sneeze. Suitable for the elderly and the inebriated.