Simon Carr: The Kitchen Capitalist

Chinese New Year promises to bring success
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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...

That last year finished in a bit of a trough, I have to say; in something of a slough. Failed schedules, missed deadlines, broken promises, misunderstandings, overcommitments and a complete howling foul-up of the postal service. Christmas, in other words.

But the days are getting longer now. There is more light. We have new year resolutions to guide us on to fortune. However, the Chinese New Year is still a few weeks off and they're working under the old resolutions (inducing an apoplexy in their comic foreigner).

Warren left for two weeks in America, giving me his international mobile and promising to check his e-mail twice a day. Not a word from him since. I now know what medieval women felt like, waiting by their windows fiddling with their wimples.

We're supposed to be making a printed circuit board for the full and final prototype. It was going to be ready on 24 December. The process seems to be posing them certain problems, so they haven't started it. I've no reason to assume they can't make printed circuit boards for me. They do it for other people. But there is a Chinese problem with my circuit board and it is not susceptible to any Western emotions. I've even tried being reasonable. Nothing has worked. I assume, however, that if nothing works, nothing will work and doing nothing will now solve the problem. Next week (and I enter a mystic condition to say so), my prototype will be ready.

Also, they have actually started the tooling (at least, I've paid them to start the tooling). There is no reason to believe - apart from experience - that they will not keep their promise to deliver 10,000 units at Southampton docks on 1 April. There is still time for the prototype, though a month has gone by. There is still time. What sweet words, what luxury, what a blessing.

This calm and elevated mood I have struck is born of a strange confidence that all will be well. I now believe in the product at an entirely new level. Why? It is a lesson in the nature of reality. I've seen it on the internet. My graphic designer took control of a photograph of the second wrong-coloured prototype and made it the right colour. He attached sound files to certain web-friendly buttons. He put nice, slightly retro text around the product, along with the price. And an order form. I look at the proposition and think: "Would I buy one of those?" Would I!

Only now do I realise that I don't think: "Definitely!" No, I think: "It is inconceivable that people wouldn't buy one." I have a vivid imagination but I cannot envisage circumstances in which thousands and thousands of people in the English-speaking world will not buy one. That is a different response, you notice, to the right response. In my state of mystical confidence, I do still hope it's going to be all right.