Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

'The factory heard I wasn't coming and cancelled production. I stamped on my dropped toast'
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The Independent Online

The story so far: the author has sold his house to finance a manufacturing project in the hope of making a small fortune to finance his old age...

You know I was going to China to supervise production? And you know I didn't go because it was just a vanity trip and I cried off just in time? The managers were so diligent, the prototypes were so brilliant, the production was in the schedule and the whole project had acquired a life of its own, so when I investigated my motives and conducted the cost-benefit analysis it was clear I was only going there in order to stand around looking important.

But they didn't make them. They hadn't even started making them. Have you dropped your toast? I dropped my toast. Warren, the production manager, had gone to America on a sales trip, the factory heard I wasn't coming, so they cancelled production. I stamped on my dropped toast. After a while I heard the noise I was making. It was like a mole going rump-first into a lawnmower. There was a mess. Oh, yes, there was quite a mess. They didn't make my products. Nothing's happened. They just did.... something else.

Wrath is a terrible thing, I can see why it's a deadly sin. It rarely damages anyone else. It amuses everyone, but it wipes you out. I've only lost my temper once, years ago. There was a blinding flash, my substance streamed out through my eyes and my entire internal landscape was wrecked. For weeks afterwards, when I shut my eyes I saw the hills around Tunguska where that meteorite fell in 1906. All the trees were flattened, laying away from the central blast for 70 miles around. Nothing grew there for years (I'm talking about myself now).

So, one has to turn wrath in on oneself. The noise is awful and you have to make new toast, but for some reason it doesn't lay you waste. Discipline, you see, that's what I've learnt in my moral gymnasium. Patience. I have no natural patience, and this has been an appalling process for someone who lacks patience. Repeatedly returning to the same problem turns out to be important; I like giving up, with a flourish. And this coming back for more has been humiliating. Despair is more attractive, more dignified, more productive of art. And the importance of standing around with a large look on the face must never be underestimated. I really hate doing that. It makes me feel like that mole going into the lawnmower.

I didn't gibber at Warren. He offered no explanation so I think that means in Chinese that he was mortified. He has put the product back into the schedule. We've only lost two weeks. We've done that before. Actually, we did it two weeks before. We're a month late, in fact. In fact, we're six months late. To be pedantic, we should have done all this a year ago. But, to all intents and purposes, we are now there. (How often have we heard that before?)