Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

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The big package was due on Friday. Did it arrive on Friday? Like fun it did. When did anything happen on the day it was actually supposed to happen? Have you ever known a... it arrived on Thursday. Clearly I am now in the grip of a higher power. Other people (if I can call Warren that) are toiling while I sleep.

After two years of this and that and a hell of a lot of the other, we are approaching the final phase. We are in the End of Days. The Rapture is at hand. And what is this I see? A crack in the sky, and a hand is reaching down to take me up into entrepreneur heaven. "Be a good fellow, Carnegie, and give me your chair, you've no idea of the trouble I've had getting here."

The production prototypes arrived. No fewer than 20 of them. The purpose was to demonstrate that China is capable of making more than one item at a time. We do hear very odd things about the place, after all.

But this box-opening part is extremely important. It is the moment when we entrepreneurial types summon up our murderous reserves. We always need the power to destroy the thing we have loved. If we see something that fails in the first microsecond to please us we have to hang on to that feeling and destroy everything. Disappointment is reconstructed so quickly into satisfaction, just to keep the project going. We have to hang on to our first reaction.

I open the box. Inside the box there are boxes. I pull one of them out. I open it. Inside the box is another box. It's going quite well so far. I quite like these boxes. They have a certain cubic quality. I open the third box. Now it's hotting up. I've reached the bubble wrap. I pull the contents out of the bubble wrap. It gleams from the inside. There is a clear plastic moulding to protect its front. It comes off, not unlike a mask. The thing is there. Or, more accurately, it is here.

There is only one word to describe it. It is perfect. It couldn't be more perfect if it were a baby. It is the blackest form of blue. Like anthracite on a sunny day. We have a little ceremony akin to communion, as I hold it and croon. But does it work? Have the Chinese done what everyone says the Chinese always do? Have they substituted cheap components? After all this, will it just end up sounding like a walkie-talkie with too much squash or welch or woof?

It sounds like heaven. What I can hear above my gulping sobs of relief sounds like angels.

But the workmanship? If I take the back off, will it look as if a cat had been killed and squeezed inside? All my English suppliers say the Chinese have the soldering skills of 12th-century blacksmiths. But they're wrong. Inside, it looks like the working parts of the Tardis.

Do I really need to go to China at all? Couldn't I just stay by the pool and count the money I'm going to make?