John Avison: Where’s the doofer? In the thingie
THE question that bounces round Avison Mansions more and more these days is: Where’s the doofer?
As the midday sun of our years heads west towards the horizon of our elder times, our house is filling up with doofers.
In a minimalist’s house, finding a doofer would be the simplest of tasks. One suspects the doofer would stand out from the rest of the furniture.
But ours is not a minimalist house. I don’t like to use the word cluttered, but every room in our humble abode is, shall we say, over-ornamented.
Pip rightly calls these ornaments memory-bubbles.
They have come as gifts from all over the world, for the last 50 years, and each one has a story to tell.
But you get the feeling that some thingie is wandering round the house with a rusty pin pricking all these memory-bubbles and running off with their stories.
"Remind me what this is and where it came from," I’ll ask.
"That’s doohickey that they make in Wotsitland, and we got it last Christmas from Sally Youknowho."
Of course. It all comes flooding back.
There was a time, of course, when doofers had names.
Let’s face it, nobody ever called the television remote control device anything but a doofer.
The doofer would be down the back of the sofa, broken or in the dog.
The black doofer controlled the video and the grey doofer the TV.
The short doofer with no batteries was meant to, but did not, now or ever, control the stereo speakers, though I suspect it answers the phone for us when we’re not paying attention.
But now that just about everything is a doofer of one genre or another, life can be confusing.
You can hide any number of doofers indefinitely. In fact, some of the ornaments may be doofers themselves, and thus doubly hard to find.
And we haven’t even started looking for wotsits, doobries, ummerjigs, thingies, and their close cousins thingibobs.
For the sake of argument we’ll designate doofer as the generic form.
But even with that simplification, it is a confusing fact that one doofer may well be hiding behind, underneath, on top of or even inside another.
"Will you put the wotsit in the doofer?" could be a request to put a pie in the microwave, a crossword clue in seven across, or a shilling in the meter for all I know.
This leads to an intuitive form of housekeeping, some of which is successful, and some of which is disastrous.
It does not do, for instance, to confuse the doofer (the tablecloth) with the doofer (vase of flowers) that sits atop it.
You need to know that the likelihood of your wife wanting you to put the doofers (flowers) in the doofer (washing machine) are fairly slim, and that therefore it’s the doofer (tablecloth) to which she is referring.
This should not prevent the tablecloth ending up in the doofer (the shower, the garden or the aforementioned dog) if I feel there’s a point to be made.
But this sort of rebellion would in any case be hypocritical. I am just as guilty.
It’s as well Pip rarely accompanies me into the workshop or study. In these places, I am renowned for loudly and pointlessly cursing inanimate objects for their stupidity.
I have also been known to unscrew a thingie without checking first to see whether I have any suitable wingdings into which to fit it.
Opening a doodah on the computer and forgetting to save it in the doobry when it’s thingibobbed has cost me many a frustrating hour.
You do feel they ought to have red flashing wotsits in the corner to warn you not to.
Sadly, life has very few red flashing wotsits, and we very often have to live with the consequences of confusing a doofer with one of those other doofers.
What doofer am I thinking of, exactly? Ah that’s it. A thingummyjig.