The Weasel

Every box was marked with the name of the room for which it was intended. A dyslexic hand directed a dozen boxes to the 'Spree Bedroom', although that had a nicely louche air about it
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I have never, I now see, paid enough attention to the crucial role the potato peeler plays in our lives. Ditto the lemon zester, another of those back-of-the-drawer objects not usually considered in the premier league of Necessities for a Happy Life. How blind we are, in our smug, Nineties way, to what is truly important; how easily we forget Maslow's Hierarchy of Need, which dictates that human hungers and requirements are always subject to change; how foolishly we assume that such things as shelter, money, sex and food are the fundamentals of our life's support system, when all the time it was in fact... Oh no, don't tell me the bloody egg whisk's disappeared as well.

I can't bear it. We moved house, you see, the whole furry clan, a week ago, shipped all our possessions into a new Weasel Villas, a homely retreat within yelling distance of a Cafe Rouge and an Italian deli (Mrs W, prey to palpitations, cannot go for long without sun-dried apricots in raisin foccacia) and everything was going fine. The removals men, all called Larry, Garry, Barry and Harry, like the baby quins in Raising Arizona, were as genial as you could wish. They hammed it up as if auditioning for Moving Story on television. They whistled and sang, negotiated tricky doorways like Nobel trigonometricians, packed everything (and I mean everything: fag-ends, last-dribble wine bottles, broken and hideous objets d'art and shockingly problematic items of underwear) into a few hundred boxes, drove them to SE21 and disgorged them amid draughts of Earl Grey and Heineken.

Every box was marked with the name of the room for which it was intended. A dyslexic hand directed a dozen boxes to the "Spree Bedroom", although that had a nicely louche air about it, as did the boxes of sheets and towels that were helpfully steered towards the "Linning Cupboard" (where, I confess, one linns outrageously). But fatigue had set in towards the end, and a vital crateload of cuisinal artefacts, including the peeler, the zester, the egg whisk and a dozen other things that sound like the villains in a Batman movie, went missing. It's probably sitting at the top of the house marked "Playroom". Hence my dismay. It's an odd thing to discover that, when you are reduced to scraping potatoes with a knife, something in you dies of neglect.

Worst of all, though, is the Video Crisis. The day before the move, the packers were stripping the top floor and it seemed that the sitting room would be the last redoubt of ordinary life. So I rented two videos to amuse the family in the evening. I must have left them on the sofa for an hour in which I went to console Mr Singh, our weeping newsagent, for losing his best customer. When I got back, Larry, Clarrie et al had been through the room like locusts, packed everything (library included) into another thousand boxes and slung them on the lorry. Now, at Weasel Villas Mark II, the sitting room contents are stacked to the ceiling, not to be unpacked until the big redecoration in the spring. And somewhere among the Byzantine ziggurat of cardboard, Forrest Gump and The Addams Family are lurking still, ringing up penalty fees of pounds 3.98 for every day they're overdue. Dare I plunge into this mountain and look for them? Ranulph Fiennes himself would quake at the prospect. It's just one more trauma of moving house. I can't bear to think about it. I'll drown my sorrows instead.

Anyone seen the corkscrew...?

Being essentially a provincial beast, the Weasel has always been startled by the desire of London sophisticates to do what everyone says is trendy. A friend tells me of a visit to Mezzo, Sir Terence Conran's new restaurant- cum-aircraft-hanger in Soho. Once the Marquee club, revered in rock'n'roll history as the place where Phil Oakie, the Human League's suavely off- key chanteur, was felled by a flying beer glass, it is now the kind of restaurant that is, in the phrase of the moment "to die for" (as opposed to "to die from").

The place, reports my friend, was packed to the gills with bellowing power-lunchers, all intent on recreating the authentic Eighties experience, from the hard-edged, mirror-tiled decor to the conversational topics. No one has yet been heard boasting about the value of their house, but you can't expect miracles.

Oddly, despite the sniffiness of the critics, my friend declared that the food was very good. And the service was certainly brisk. The way the bottle of wine was whisked away from the table between each pouring bordered on the pretentious. But she found the absence of prices on her menu strangely disconcerting. And considering the size of the place, it's odd how little elbow room is provided, once thousands of tiny tables have been packed in. Anyone wanting room for two to eat comfortably should take my friend's advice. Book a table for four and argue about it later.

Having seen a lot of them around, the Weasel is thinking of getting a new Rover. Unfortunately, it is likely to be a difficult purchase. You have to find somewhere to keep it, the waste it produces is horrendous, and every day or two you have to take it out for a run and throw sticks all over Clapham Common to keep it in good order. And the same goes for Fido and Spot.

It's precisely because dogs, and pets generally, are such a lot of trouble that the Japanese have decided the best approach is to rent them rather than buy them. At a Tokyo shop called Perro Moco (garbled Spanish for "Dog Mucus", for some reason), you can rent ten varieties of dog or cat. A Chihuahua will cost you as little as pounds 30 for an eight-hour day. A Labrador will cost more like pounds 50. No doubt if you choose a Rottweiler, they pay you to take it away.

Rival firms, however, take a dim view of all this, talking darkly of the stress suffered by animals having to meet so many strangers. They prefer to rent animals only to those who are likely to buy them. This may not be as barmy as it seems. We are just entering the high season for the impulse-buying of animals. Soon the newspapers will be filled with heart-rending pictures of surplus pups, collected from the dustbins and motorway embankments where they've been dumped.

If you're renting, on the other hand, a dog could be just for Christmas. You could send it straight back afterwards...

Scientific progress is never easy. A company called Organogenesis has just placed a brilliant new product before the American Federal Drug Administration, seeking a licence to go into production. The product in question is artificial skin. The trouble is where they get it from.

According to an article in Fortune magazine, a single infant human foreskin can be cultured to produce "acres" of Graftskin, an artificial tissue for binding up flesh wounds and mending skin abrasions. Sadly, the article advises people against buying into the company concerned. The product's chances, it says, are thought to be slim. The testing has not been as rigorous as it might be, and ordinary bandages are just as good and much cheaper.

Surely they are being too negative. With vigorous marketing professionals at the helm and an endless supply of raw material, who knows what could be achieved for an extremely modest outlay? Let's hope no one tells the National Health Service about this brilliant initiative, otherwise a lot more little boys than usual could, as the old joke has it, be losing their pullovers

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