Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 12 January 2009

Spending money to save money

On the pavement (US: sidewalk) this morning there’s an unmistakable shape at my feet: the truncated L of an Allen key. It triggers memories of reassembling Ikea knocked-down furniture, especially to furnish the house in France. I’ll withold the joky stories this topic usually engenders in what Damon Runyon used to call “the blatts”.

I’m struck by the techno-financial equation it represents. Allen-headed screws are I suspect more expensive than conventional slotted and/or cross-head screws, and Ikea is renowned for its parsimony. Yet opting for this design allows flush fixings which aren’t visually disagreeable together with the provision of the cheapest of all screwdrivers – so cheap, in fact, it can be regarded as a disposable. But which does the job perfectly.

I once visited an Ikea warehouse in the midst of rural Sweden. The blue and yellow that seem so garish in this country blended rather better with the conifers and silver birches. But then they are the national colours.

WRITING: CRAFT NOT ART
Eclogue 77. Semi-colon pundits should be required to prove the point.
Example: In 1957 I bought my first car; until then I’d ridden bikes. (Using a full stop would turn the two short sentences into telegrams – remember those?)
Note: Virgil wrote eclogues, or pastoral poems. It must be clear I’m not seeking to compete.

7 comments:

Sir Hugh said...

One area of semicolon use for me is as follows.

"The competitors must be in teams of at least two; before they start they receive a list of control points they must visit."

If I had used a full stop I would have felt obliged to reuse the noun "competitors" in the following sentence which would not flow as well as it does using the pronouns. A comma would not have been strong enough.

marja-leena said...

The clever engineering and simplicity of the Allen key and the screws suited the Nordic sense of clean design and function. It's adoption might be at the very foundation of Ikea's huge success.

Nicely Very Unique said...

An Allen key is much cheaper to produce and fit in with a flatpack than a screwdriver.As for the semicolon....you two need to get out more!!

Barrett Bonden said...

Sir Hugh: As I suggested, flow is often the key.

M-L: Cheapness too.

NVU: Given the solecisms in this bloggername, the inaccurately directed sense of attack and the lack of profile I'm inclined to think this message came from someone in my ever-widening family. Conceivably a soccer supporter.

Lucy said...

I love semi-colons with a passionate devotion, and cannot imagine life without them.

Eclogue is a lovely word too.

Who was the Allen that the key was named after, I wonder?

occasional speeder said...

Not me. All I want to know was who or what was "Allen"?

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy/OS: It's terribly boring, I'm afraid. They were first made by the Allen Mfg Corp of (I think) Connecticut. On the other hand the Americans perversely call them hex keys which encourages rather more in the way of idle thought - say about two or three seconds' worth.