Available from Purves & Purves, 83 Tottenham Court Road, London W1 (0171-580 8223). For other stockists, telephone: 01428 658888.
There are four reasons why can openers have been relegated to the bottom drawer: 1) they are fast being made obsolescent by the ring-pull - although these snap off, leaving you unable to break through a surface seemingly designed to withstand nuclear war; 2) they are not a thing of beauty you would be happy displaying alongside your set of Global knives; 3) they are seen to be only useful if you are a regular consumer of creamed rice, chopped tomatoes, or ready-soaked chick peas; 3) you don't own a dog or a cat. However, this sleek aluminium opener from Zyliss, a Swiss company specialising in kitchen gadgets, looks good and works a treat. The opener decapitates the top of the can, leaving a suitably blunt edge, and cuts equally well on round and rectangular cans. The aluminium adds to its tactility and makes it rust-proof and dishwasher-friendly, while also being reassuringly heavy. According to the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents, last year, 20,000 people in Britain suffered tin-related injuries serious enough to have them making for the nearest emergency room - although, luckily for us, can openers are far removed from the first ones, from around 1875, which were a crude alternative to the hammer and chisel. If, however, you feel pounds 11.95 is too high a price, even for all this promise, you can always stick to your Swiss Army knife. Aoife O' Riordain