Gadgets the great escape, p.14
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       Gadgets: The Great Escape, p.14

           David Hancock
 

  Lee-Mailer had already led the squad into the rockery on the right, the same one Jane and her gadgets, including the reluctant Deep Fat, had entered earlier. The General and his troops were in the rockery on the left, cut off from the rest of the appliances by the wide and open concrete steps.

  The first bolt of lightning lit up the rockery with a glare so fierce that for a split-second every gadget, bush, flower and rock seemed frozen in time. But it was the clap of thunder immediately afterwards that shook the gadgets to their very circuits.

  Zalda the Ice Queen screamed with a high-pitched wail and was comforted by Harry the hand electric mixer. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said soothingly. ‘It’s just thunder, it’ll roll away.’ But instead of rolling away there was another ear-splitting clap right overhead causing The General to tell his squad: ‘Everybody stay calm.’

  On the other side of the rockery Blade could see some of his appliances like the slow cooker and the electric wok were beginning to tremble. Only the sandwich maker, the most maligned of all the gadgets, seemed completely unperturbed with the impending thunderstorm.

  Deep Fat didn’t know what to do as usual but Jane ordered all the gadgets in their care to shelter under the nearest large boulder or bush and to try and hold on to something in case of high winds.

  Then all the gadgets braced themselves for the onslaught.

  The rain hit with a totally unexpected power knocking over the juice extractor and sending her helplessly skidding down a small slope and mercifully being saved by crashing into an Australian daisy bush whose mauve flower heads were being ripped off by the gale. ‘Stay there and hold on,’ shouted the electric rice maker, ‘I’ll try and come down to help you.’

  ‘No it’s too dangerous, stay back. I’ll…’ and with that the Jenny the juice extractor was lifted up into the air by the wind and crashed further down the rockery slope.

  Jenny had once been one of the most popular gadgets in the kitchen. But like that of so many of her friends the honeymoon hadn’t lasted too long. At first the JEN48w made in Belgium was used all the time. She had been an award winner at a trade fair in America mainly due to the unique pulp ejection system that Jenny had. The pulp from all the juicing was sent to a separate compartment which theoretically mean that was all that had to be emptied. But in practice it wasn’t exactly true. Although most of the pulp did go in the compartment as in most juicers the blades also got clogged leading to everything eventually being a mess, especially after juicing something like carrots.

  Jenny managed a couple of weeks on the worktop but once everything you could think of had been juiced, tasted and dismissed, Jenny came to the end of the line. To this day she blamed the rhubarb juicing for being her undoing. The juice was sticky and the pulp was everywhere. Every time there was a juicing the whole appliance had to be dismantled to go in the dish washer or washed by hand in the bowl and then re-assembled again. It wasn’t long before the tetra packs of exotic juices were back in the fridge and Jenny was at the back of the cupboard. But little Lucy so liked the juicer that now and again Rebecca would get Jenny out and use her to provide orange juice for her daughter’s breakfast as a treat.

  During her short term on the worktop Jenny had made friends with Ricky the electric rice maker. Ricky was a bit of a show-off and loved to impress the girls. He was chic and stylish and his real name was Ricojirushi, a simple but fine five-cup electric rice cooker from Japan; part number RJ-DL16. The secret to Ricky’s success was the totally lock-tight lid and the moisture preserving cap/vent which meant the rice never dried out too much and could be kept warm and moist for hours. Obviously there was a non-stick coating on the inner pan. With Ricky very little had been left to chance, But there was one thing, and it was the thing that Rebecca constantly overlooked because it took time and seemed pointless when she had so many time-saving gadgets. Rebecca never washed the rice by hand, to get rid of all the excess starch before putting it into the rice cooker. Consequently although Ricky provided passable rice he never performed to his full capabilities. But he managed to stay on the worktop for quite a long time because the family knew no other way of making rice. But then perfect microwavable rice in packets found its way on to the supermarket shelves, and although it was ludicrously highly priced, it meant curtains for Ricky.

  But before he was pushed into the back of yet another one of the kitchen’s many cupboards the Japanese Lothario had set his sights on Jenny the juice extractor. He had teased her with lovely traditional rice cakes filled with pickled plums and offered Kayaku Gohan, mixed rice with mushrooms, peas and carrots. Jenny was delighted by the attention and their friendship started to grow. Jenny was the first to be swept off the worktop and locked away. It hurt Ricky more than he cared to admit. He had always fancied himself a seducer of female gadgets rather than wanting any lasting commitment. But lovely Jenny had made him change his mind, and when she was put in the cupboard he began to pine.

  Imagine then how happy he was when the gadgets were finally freed and he found himself on the same squad, Deep Fat and Jane’s squad, as Jenny. But he had hardly had a chance to get acquainted again when disaster had struck with the lovely juice extractor being swept away by the rain.

  The monsoon-type rain was pouring over the lava rocks, cleaning and polishing the sandstone and scouring the granite, forming waterfalls that were steadily filling up the ponds in the rockery.

  ‘We must try to find some shelter,’ The General shouted to his squad on the left-hand side of the rockery.

  ‘I know a way for us to shelter sir,’ said the food vacuum sealer looking around and seeing they were between two rocks. ‘But first I have to scale this rock,’ he added, as he carefully chose the very widest roll of bags from his collection. ‘Hold on to the other end while I roll out my vacuum bags,’ he instructed The General.

  The sealer unrolled a long length of vacuum bags, all of which were attached together so they could be easily torn off, and looked up at the rock he had to climb. He tucked one end of the vacuum bags into his belt and slowly started to inch his way up the side of the boulder. It was slippy and there was hardly any foothold and for every six inches the sealer progressed he fell back another three.

  ‘You’re not going to make it, come back,’ shouted the warming tray.

  But the sealer just looked disdainfully at the tray and, drenched through, continued to inch his way up the rock. When he got to the top he was tired and barely able to breathe but he immediately set about finding the flattest area on the rock. And then he started sealing one end of the vacuum bags straight on to the rock by withdrawing the air and making it stick. He prayed it would hold.

  Drained of energy the sealer made his way down to the small enclosure between the two rocks, and took the other end of the vacuum bags that The General had been holding for him. This time he had to scale the opposite rock. And this time the fatigue and the rain were almost his undoing as he started to waver and it looked like he might fall. He stopped for a while, collecting himself and then, summoning up every last bit of energy he had the sealer made it to the top. This time he sealed the other end of the bag roll in the same way as the first, praying once again that the seal would be strong enough.

  He had created a rudimentary type of bivouac.

  Exhausted but proud of himself the little sealer descended the rock. ‘Quickly General,’ he shouted above the noise of the storm. ‘Get them all under the plastic sheeting out of the rain.’

  ‘Well done officer,’ said The General as Valda; the electric hand mixer; the warming tray and the meat mincer squelched their way into the temporary shelter.

  They all started congratulating the sealer. Zalda was the first one to give him a big smile and a wink. Even the electric warming tray went up to him and said: ‘I apologise mate, I’m so sorry I doubted you could do it, er.. sir.’

  And the ever modest sealer replied: ‘Don’t worry I doubted it myself at one stage. And please don’t call me sir. My name is Simon, Simon the seale
r.’ Then he turned to the General and said: ‘I don’t know how long those seals are going to hold sir. What do you think we should do?’

  ‘All we can do is sit here and pray. I’ll get in touch with Blade.’

  But Blade was having his own problems. Some of the squad he and Lee-Mailer were looking after had split up and Blade was appealing to them shouting: ‘Everyone try to stay together. Don’t go off on your own, try to stay together. Huddle together for safety.’

  *

 
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