COLUMN: April 12, 2012

I KNOW that wide-scale jet-pack use is not going to happen in my lifetime, despite quite clear and specific promises in my youth. A cure for the common cold is as far away as ever, and I quite understand the reasons for that.

But I refuse to accept that there is no immediate prospect of boffins perfecting bin technology so that I can have one which opens and closes without causing me any sort of difficulty.

For the past 15 years or so, I have been searching for the perfect bin – and, by perfect, I mean adequate – like Stanley, searching for Livingstone. Or Alan Davies, searching for a way out.

My first disappointment with regard to bins was with a swing top model. You will be familiar with this type of bin – lozenge-shaped with a white V-shaped lid which swings both ways on a hinge.

I am not entirely sure why a kitchen bin lid needs to swing both ways. It is a rare kitchen which has the bin in the centre of the room, easily accessible from all angles. “Well, Claudia, we were thinking about having an island there, but in the end we plumped for a lozenge- shaped bin.”

It did not live up to expectations. The lid kept swinging off its hinge, and every time I touched, or even thought about, the non-moving part of the lid, it would become a moving part of the lid, falling off the base and depositing the swinging part into the bin itself.

Bin number 2 was more promising, a pedal bin. I am a man. When one introduces an element of machinery into a household object, one gets a little bit excited. Depress a pedal at the bottom to open the lid at the top? That’s like flipping Mouse Trap.

But pedal bins do not work either, it transpired. The pedal on my bin was more like a trigger. One had to depress it slowly and then, at a variable point, the lid would flip up.

Push too hard and the lid would stay up, even after the foot had been withdrawn. Given that the whole point of a pedal bin is to obviate the necessity to touch the bin with one’s hands, this was something of a failure.

Push too gently, however, and the lid would hover, quivering, at a 20 degree angle, giving just about enough room to throw in a dropped Rich Tea biscuit, but nothing thicker. It was not a Mouse Trap of a bin, it was an Operation.

The third bin started off so well. A gleaming chrome cylinder with a flat black top. Push the lid gently, and it would flip up. Flip is the wrong word to use. It would glide up. If it had a sound effect associated with it, it would be the sound of the automatic doors opening in Star Trek, appropriate for the Space Age bin it was. I loved that bin more than another man has ever loved a bin, ie, lots.

And then, after two weeks, the catch went. Yes, I might have used it a bit more than was necessary – it did have a lovely action – but, really, TWO WEEKS? And the lid would not go down. In the end, the only way I could keep the lid down was to place a bag of rubbish on top of it. It is difficult to imagine a more damning failure of bin design.

Difficult, but not impossible. For now I have the worst bin of all – Bin Laden. Bin Laden is also chrome, with a black top, but the lid is on a 45 degree angle and closes, thanks to a powerful spring. And the lid is about the size of a bread roll plate, making it fine for the disposal of bread rolls, apple cores, crumpled-up Liz Jones articles, etc.

But watch me scrape a plate into Bin Laden and watch a man cry. For plate scraping requires a minimum of two hands, one to hold the plate, and one to make a horrible noise with a knife. And pushing back a bin lid held in place with a powerful spring takes one hand.

One does not have to be Carol Vorderman to realise that, even with a full complement of hands, I am going to spill bean juice all over my trousers. So off comes the lid, and I find myself back at square one. Or, more accurately, lozenge one.

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