I have needs

You know those care guides that you see attached to a little stick in the soil of a new house plant? Have you noticed that they’ve gone first person? They used to be nothing more than a stern list of dos and don’ts, written in cold instructionese. Now they read like a lonely hearts ad. ‘I like to be kept out of direct sunlight and to be fed once a week in the summer months. I also enjoy wine-tasting and walks on the beach.’ Presumably, the idea is to give the plant a personality so you’ll feel guilty enough to take care of it. It works, too. I found myself apologising to one the other day and promising that, if it gave me another chance, I’d be more attentive to its needs in future. In fact, I’d like to see this approach extended to other vulnerable products. Clothes labels, for example, are currently all but meaningless. Pictures of dotted irons, circles with a letter P in them, crossed out triangles … How much better if they said things like ‘I like to be washed in water no warmer than 40 degrees and to be carefully ironed, then hung up on a proper wooden hanger. Please don’t boil wash me with the tea towels and then stuff me into a drawer while I’m still damp.’ Is that too much to ask? Cars, too, could benefit. How I wish that mine had come with a sticker saying ‘Please take care of my delicate outer shell. For example, check my rear-view mirror for poles before reversing out of your parking space last Tuesday’.

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5 comments
  1. Erika said:

    Apropos of nowt, please please write a new book quicksmart.Either a boy one or a girl one, I don’t mind.

    • damienowens said:

      I have scanned your comment for sarcasm and found none. This is possibly the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I’m going for a lie-down.

  2. Erika said:

    No, none! Am a regular Sarcasty McGinty in real life, oh yes, but on paper just makes me come across as slightly unhinged and possibly bitter so best not to chance it. Anyway.. suggested dedication… “For Erika – who inspired me to go for a lie down and then get back up again and immediately start a new book, either a boy one or a girl one, she didn’t mind”

    • damienowens said:

      OK, starting new book. It might take a while. Will we say Tuesday, Wednesday morning at the latest?

  3. Erika said:

    Much obliged! Assume signing/reading Thursday, will pencil in. Then one per year please. Sloth is a sin you know.

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