by Ken Jones

Dead toaster
the autopsy frustrated
by knurled nuts

We seek solace in the INSTRUCTIONS folder, sandwiched between a French beard trimmer manual and all you need to know about the Funkwecker Radio-Controlled Alarm Clock. Alas, no dramatic Exploded Parts Diagram -- to every nut its number. We trawl the aseptic text for signs of humanity. There are some mildly lyrical - even compassionate - moments, as in the advice to "remove any loose raisins from the surface of the bread this will help them from falling into the toaster". Hapless crumpets are more summarily dealt with -- "Slice each crumpet into equal halves."
Generally the mood is one of anxiety - even mild neurosis. "Bread may burn ! This toaster must be watched !" And there are some dark but vaguely suggestive warnings: "Do not use this appliance for other than its intended use."
Under "TOASTING NOTES" the owner/operator is taken more seriously in hand, beginning with the fundamental proposition that "Toasting is a combination of cooking and drying the bread". The writing becomes so fretfully didactic as to suggest it is the work of one of Adorno's "Authoritarian Personality Types", possibly a fascist and spouse beater. And the following is decidedly esoteric:-

Applicable for custom-made-face on toast ONLY. Generally speaking, the higher browning controls setting, the higher the quality of custom-made-face toast. Experience it yourself & enjoy the toast !

Note the sudden generosity of spirit at the end. It moves Noragh to draw a "custom-made-face" on the inert toaster, as a kind of wish-fulfilment magic. Meanwhile, from the fault-finding section I sketch out a decision-tree, to which she adds a few crows.
We try to give the writer a more sympathetic ear. And then, in an obscure corner of the text, he or she observes off-handedly that "the handle may not latch if the browning control is set to minimum." Yes indeed !
Surely one area of life where "Satisfaction is Unreservedly Guaranteed".

Clack !
Two perfect slices
shoot out into this troubled world


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