Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

My brainchild has become a thing of beauty
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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...

My hands don't tremble any more when the packages arrive. Time was - oh, those innocent days - when a parcel from China would be unwrapped tenderly, as if it were the infant Moses. The item would emerge from its swaddling and be laid on the kitchen table for intense, detailed, clucky attention. Those early, much-admired prototypes look truly horrible now.

What fortitude, what humanity, what saintliness it takes to love an ugly baby! You mothers know what I mean; those who didn't put your infant in a ark, and send it off down the river. You persevered, didn't you, hoping your feelings would improve. And often they did. As did the infant, coincidentally.

Now I see the reward for sticking at it. I'd never seen the point before. But the early prototypes were loved for what they might become. They out-grew their ugliness and absurdity, mutated through an ungainly adolescence and now - bloody hell, that looks fantastic! (The sample is out of the package.) Good grief! That is humbling. Did I make that? Did hands that made that croaky, scratchy, useless prototype two years ago - make this? (I'm trembling now.) But... but... but (vocabulary's gone).

It is a thing of beauty. It has a dark, crow-black blueness that is so black it's hardly blue at all. It has a highly polished, semi-gloss finish that dares to succeed. The visible mechanism - delightful. The fabrication, excellent. What's the best thing I can think of? It looks like a product you'd see in a shop! And when you press the buttons (this brings me to my knees in a fit) it works. I never expected that. In all its transitions and 75 mix-and-match voice files! It works!

If I sell 50,000 of these round the world, I'll pay off my new mortgage. Ithas more zeros than the Japanese air force ever had, so that's impressive. I could go door to door and reach the target. "'Allo missus, you'd like Stephen Fry in your ear 'ole of a morning?" I could do that. Then there's America. And Christians. And gay people. There's... people who believe in astrology (the applications are endless, sales are limitless).

How my thinking has matured. No longer do I dream of a small but perfectly formed country house; I don't design the day maids' uniform, or consider how to buy in a reliable supply of ironing ladies from Indian villages to starch their aprons. No, I'm up and down the King's Road selling my knick-knack door to door with a pencil behind my ear. It's hardly palladian. But it's a realistic step towards it. That's how we proceed - one foot in front of the other.

So the general atmosphere of misery, depression and failure has lightened. Now I have no intention of selling half my project to those fox-faced billionaires on television. Hooray.