I blame the Swiss. I blame them for two reasons:
Firstly, for inventing a pocket knife that allows its owner to open bottles of wine, clean their teeth with a toothpick, clean their pipe (smoking pipe, as opposed to some sort of rudimentary, DIY proctologist’s kit), always know which direction north is, saw through sturdy branches, and a knife that will inevitably be used to whittle the said branch, over a period of several hours, down to something the size of a toothpick, an implement that your trusty Swiss Army knife contained all along.
Secondly, because blaming the Swiss always seems like a relatively safe thing to do, based on them being neutral, so their Army has never taken part in foreign conflicts. It seems strange to me to have an army that doesn’t fight, even stranger still to arm them with a multipurpose knife that appears to predominantly function as a tool to aid hosting a successful picnic. I can see the Swiss army on manoeuvres, high up in the Alps, opening bottles of wine, smoking and cleaning luxurious pipes, whilst commenting on the direction of the wind as they determinedly pick pieces of bratwurst out of their teeth.
We live in a world now where a device is no longer expected to fulfil just a single function. Ten years ago mobile phones became fused, or confused depending on your point of view, with cameras. Televisions now access the internet. Watches contain MP4 players. Last night I played the microwave at chess and lost. There’s a shopping centre near to where I live that has toilets that clean your bottom for you. They shoot a jet of water up your bottom, the pressure of which has various settings. Then it blows hot air on your ass to dry it. When did we lose the ability, or the desire to clean our own
bottoms? What happens if a solar flare takes down all this electrical gadgetry and huge numbers of us are left shuffling around, with our trousers around our ankles holding toilet role with a fixed gormless expression on our faces, in search of the lost knowledge of how to clean our own backsides? Because this is what will happen if we become dependant on this technology. And my personal favourite, for the Swiss soldier out on exercise, but who might need to pop into an internet cafe, the Swiss Army knife with handy drive.
It feels as if much of what we buy today has to have added features, to be capable of fulfilling multiple purposes. Lately, I noticed this when buying orange juice from 7/11. I’m nearly 41 years old, and up until recently buying orange juice had been a relatively simple task, one that I’ve felt confident in my abilities of achieving. Essentially 7/11 offers a choice of 2 types of orange juice, standard orange juice, and an orange juice in an altogether more sophisticated black carton, costing a little more and with collagen. Being the strong willed, and independent minded person that I am, I was seduced by the darker and more mysteriously expensive orange juice that included collagen. I’ve been drinking this juice most days for the best part of a year now, when it dawned on me that I don’t even now what collagen is. Is it even something that should be added to orange juice? Should I be drinking collagen everyday? Have I become collagen dependent? What about when I was young, I don’t recall my mother ever enquiring as to whether I’d had my collagen today.
A couple of weeks ago I started with a fever, apart from feeling grumpy that it looked as if I’d be sick for a few days, I thought of food stuffs that might assist me in my convalescence. One of the first things I considered was fruit juice, and this caused me a considerable panic. Was my fever being caused by a collagen deficiency? Had I developed a tolerance to collagen, and thus my body needed an ever increasing quantity to sate its collagen fix?
I don’t even know what collagen is and all of a sudden, to my neurotic mind anyway, it’s become a dietary staple. I’m convinced that it’s collagen that keeps my DNA helix bound together. Without collagen I might simply just breakdown on a cellular level, or implode up my freshly scented anus. What does it even look like? How do they add it to orange juice? Is there a man with a wheel barrow who shovels it into the vats of orange juice? Is it a paste that gets squeezed into the juice through a giant hypodermic syringe. Is collagen a gas that gets pumped through the juice?
There was a time when orange juice was just orange juice. You couldn’t take a photo with it, you couldn’t use it to call you mother and ask her to pick you up, and you definitely couldn’t use it to whittle a stick, to fashion a tooth pick.
Like I said, I blame the Swiss.