Charles Nevin: Product recalls? We've hardly started

I don’t want to make you any more edgy, but it’s a bungle out there ...
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The Independent Online

Please, mind how you go. I know it's almost impossible to resist reading The Independent, but I earnestly advise you to be very careful about combining it with any other activity, especially if you're near anything with moving parts or Japanese.

Yes, I know, too, that you've walked down this street many times on the way to work, scanning our pages as you go, but, my friend, the stakes are getting dizzily higher and the odds scarily lower by the hour. You might have unerring recall (sorry!) for the whereabouts of the street furniture, and uncanny ability to detect the whoosh of the bicycle tyre and the whiff of the Lycra, but what if the car behind is a Toyota? The battery ones are silent, you know.

Yes, I know, too, that life has consistently proved fatal, and that there's nothing you can do if it has your name on it – and heaven help you if you're called Lexus, say, or Corolla – but there are precautions that should be taken. Do you know how many health and safety officers have died in their beds? No, neither do I; but I'm prepared to bet it's well above average, even allowing for the improved regulation of potentially inflammable mattresses.

Many commentators argue wearily, of course, that we should all just calm down, that this hysteria over safety is simply an understandable reaction to ever-increasing uncertainty in an essentially uncertain world. I would respond by asking them this: have you ever heard a Honda airbag inflate?

Besides, there are still far more certainties than death and taxes: what you like is not good for you, you will regret that text, it's Gordon Brown's fault, whatever happens there will be no justice in it, and at this very moment someone somewhere is either weeping on television or planning a recall.

Seriously, it's a bungle out there. I don't want to make you any more edgy, but recalls currently listed on the website of the Trading Standards Institute include Easy-2-Clean Foaming Drain Cleaner, Heinz Fruity Custard, Morrisons Value Seedless Raisins, two makes of four-way fused socket extension leads, and, of obvious interest to health and safety inspectors, and to prove there is no escape anywhere, hot water bottles from Tiger stores. I have also taken the precaution of checking electronically on whether there any allegations that this is a jihadist, alien or cyclist conspiracy: nothing concrete yet.

So, you will be asking, while remaining anxiously alert, is this age more slapdash than those past, more over-reaching of itself in impatient pursuit of technical advance? Hmm. I ask you to, no, ah, yes, bring to mind such random examples as The Tower of Babel, the Titanic, Captain Nolan's brave but fatally botched attempt at a recall in the case of the Light Brigade, and that bottled water Coca-Cola produced from a tap in Sidcup.

No, to err is human; forgiveness, as the old saw has it, is the preserve of the divine, and is slated for a general roll-out, in deserving cases, when the greatest product recall of all time takes place on what used to be called the Last Day. While we're waiting, you might be interested to learn that there are Sinclair C5s available at around £500.

cnevin@nevinsltd.co.uk

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