In The Beginning, God Probably Had A Lot Of Useless Stuff Left Over When He’d Finished. And He Insisted On Keeping It, And That Made His Wife Really, Really Angry
Many years ago, back when Prince Charles was still on his first wife and nobody in the North had electric lights, the boyfriend at the time and I moved into a small country cottage. In this cottage was a wood-burning stove. And lying on the hearth, next to the wood-burning stove, was this…thing.
I have tried and tried to find a picture of this thing online, but there doesn’t seem to be one. So until I manage to track one down, we’ll have to make do with words instead. It looked as if it had been made of a large metal bar. It was very heavy, and it had a sort of folded flange with a notch in it at one end. The only thing we could think of that it could possibly be used for was to beat in the head of your partner, so we light-heartedly named it “the wife-killing implement”, and forgot about it. And, since neither of us was actively planning on killing the other one, my immediate instinct was to throw the thing away. It only didn’t get thrown away because the boyfriend insisted on secreting it away somewhere, possibly in the nest of apparently priceless Alan Moore comics which filled one entire spare bedroom.
Then, because we were a couple of clueless idiots, we let the oil-tank run dry, and for a while the wood-burning stove was our only source of heat in the house. We discovered that the Wife-Killing Implement was strangely good at prying open the stove door when we let it get so hot that we almost managed to weld it shut. Amazing! The Wife-Killing Implement had a function other than Wife-Killing! I remember being rather impressed that the previous residents had discovered a use for such a strange, pointless tool.
However, despite the fact that the Wife-Killing Implement now had a function, I still wanted to throw it away. I simply wasn’t prepared to keep a large, ugly, useless hunk of metal around the house just because someone had miraculously managed to improvise a use for it. We should, I felt, get rid of it, and buy a proper door-opening gadget, like proper people used.
The mystery was finally solved when I went down to my brother’s house in Devon. My brother also has a wood-burning stove, which heats his whole house. We sat down in front of it one night to watch a Zombie film, and…and there, on the hearth, was another Wife-Killing Implement.
At this point it finally dawned on me that the Wife-Killing Implement had not been re-purposed for the opening of wood-stove doors. Wood-stove door-opening was in fact its whole, only purpose. There was no better tool for the job. I already owned exactly the right object. And I had spent five years secretly fantasising about chucking it away one day when the boyfriend was out. (As it turned out, he rarely, if ever, went out. This might explain why our relationship didn’t survive.)
I gabbled out some version of this to my brother, and he laughed and said, “But you always do that. You’re always throwing away things just because you don’t understand them. You’ve been doing it for years. I think it’s hilarious. In fact, I think you should keep a list of them..”