Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

These delays are playing hell with my karma
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The Independent Online

How long have I been telling you Prototype II is nearly ready? It was all set for the middle of August, wasn't it? Where are we now, the middle of October? I don't think I'm going to get the thing before November. There's the shipping to consider - it might be three months late. That would be about right; these things happen in their own time whatever you do. In the interim, I've put together a half-million-word parliamentary website with a staff of six and a daily publication schedule. I only mention it for the sake of contrast. Some things emerge painlessly. With others, you can burn and rave as much as you like but at the close of play you're almost exactly as far ahead as the Zen master in the middle of his lily pond.

This is not to say we have no progress. Warren has mailed photographs of Prototype II. The good news is, it's not sky blue, like Prototype I. The bad news is, it's a sort of tripe white. I gave them the Pantone number for a midnight, navy blue-black, super-posh blue, and they've made it the colour of cow gut. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Knightsbridge housewives will peer at my device in Harrods and say severely to the assistant: "It's very clever, of course, but I don't like the colour. Haven't you got something a little more... intestinal?"

The delay is the result of the aluminium tool makers not doing their duty. They went on holiday for five days. Did you know Chinese workers had five-day holidays? They're on the slippery slope. "Sorry for the waitings," Warren said.

In one way, the waitings have been essential. They've allowed the idea to marinate. Goodness knows it's a giant of an idea now compared with what it might have been had the technology matched the speed of thought.

But in another way the waitings are deadly, and not just for reasons of dynamic, commercial can-do management. The spiritual costs are escalating brutally. The longer the project drags on, the more you have to think about it. You turn it over and over again in your mind, and imagine presenting it to this group and that group. It looms ever larger in family life, like a child with special needs. Sometimes your eyes glaze over in a conversation and family members know you are no longer with them. Of course, this is an occupational hazard with inventors. But the thing with this is, it's a gadget. It's never going to be more than a gadget. All this time and attention poured into it - it's playing hell with my karma. You are what you make; certainly, one is in danger of becoming what one makes.

It's why art is important: beauty makes one beautiful (every portrait is a self-portrait). But why is gadgetry important? And what will become of the gadget-maker? The risks of this venture are far more than financial.