Package Baggage

It always fries my brains when I have nothing more creative to do with my time than visit a computer store. It is a bit like sending a Brit soldier to the gulf without any body armour. I am always caught between the friendly fire of spotty computer experts who start rubbing themselves up against a flatscreen thinner than a fagpaper while explaining the difference between 12 bit and 16 bit digital processing. The ears loosen from the moorings I start to suck my thumb and playfully kick the heels. Apart from the ugliness of computer furniture, I have very little to say about it all as it is not my chosen field. I might add that I find the odd transition of white to black monitors although some sort of fashion statement will not be changed purely to match the cushions in my house. That, suffice to say, is hardly more excitement than I can possibly bear. Who decides this bollocks? You and l just get used to black computers, and a brass 'wirewool' finish with pastel stencils will rocket into the market no doubt. What next, pewter printers and walnut keyboards? My friend usually swings by the computer shop while on his own errands because frankly, I would slip out of this dimension and straight into a coma if somebody tried to educate me on such matters.

But what is it with designer packaging? I watched on the news recently about a certain 'Mr Big' who was arrested for peddling cheap DVD's and it would appear he owed his brief success to selling movies for about three quid and thus had very few complaints from his growing customer base. Now if an Asian asylum seeking entrepreneur can spot a corner in the market after just six years in 'Blighty' what does that tell you about our over-priced, over-packaged, over-hyped, etc etc products, whose manufacturers are surprised when a pirate industry springs up and takes 40% of the business?

Buying good quality contraband should be encouraged to force the real 'rip off' merchants to bring their prices down? Oops! Did I say that out loud?

This brings me to packaging. My froth about packaging is such a pet hate with me. I would love to hit the streets with a camera crew and see how many O.A.P's can get a Digital camcorder memory card out of its second skin before they croak or preferably just watch their wrinkly faces screw right up as I dust them occasionally.

These little suckers are only the size of postage stamp but live in this plastic crib that will withstand a thousand megaton blast. The shell is moulded and in comparison to the actual size of the product is the equivalent to an affixed playing card in the middle of the Old Trafford. Inside is a paper insert that has a splash of graphics promising you eternal life and a perpetual hard-on for your digital recorder.

It is a freestanding display that apart from its impregnability would be an ideal ice scraper for the car windscreen when your own credit card has already expired. I used carpet scissors in the end to chomp the plastic edging away, slither by slither, until I found the tiny card that was further cocooned inside another plastic sarcophagus. It's very own 'snap-to' and rigid wallet for easy carriage. To my horror I noticed I had extricated the card without checking the printed warning that 'should the product be unsatisfactory' that it had to be returned intact.

How do you know it is unsatisfactory until you have tried it? It's a memory card for a video recorder? You have to try it out first by taking it out of the package. I bet even the memory card would have remembered this.

Supermarket shelves groan with the weight of packaging when little of the product actually exists.

Rashers of bacon sat looking without hope in welded envelopes. Biscuits have to be guillotined midway up the packet to become liberated. Vacuum packed frozen goods with re-sealable 'fasteners' that refuse to clip together and end up slipping out and falling helplessly to the freezer floor. Petit Pois, sweetcorn or pasta that you try to open the top end and by some bizarre logic thus gives the signal for the arse end to burst apart with the force of a megaton bomb.

Audio tapes! (I mention these as I'm 'normally bias' anyway