A while ago I bought two ‘sweetener’ products. One is a big jar that looks as though it’s filled with sugar, and the other is a tiny plastic dispenser of sweetener tablets. You are supposed to work the dispenser so that a tablet or two drops into your tea or coffee. The big jar of sweetener is probably more for sprinkling on your strawberries.
But… I can never find the dispenser. You would think it would be a handy, space-saving gadget that you could pop in a purse or pocket and carry everywhere. But it’s never there, partly because Mum is always moving things around in the kitchen, and things are never where you saw them last. I don’t just mean ‘picking up a jar of marmalade and putting it down in a different corner,’ I mean she cleans out cupboards and switches things to different cupboards, and she throws out packets and pours biscuits, tea or whatever into some opaque jar with a lid. A few months later she throws the biscuits out because nobody knew they were there, and they went soggy.
When you ask “where are my Punjabi teabags?” she points at a pottery jar that says ‘Dried Fruit’ on the side.
“But how can I tell it apart from your Earl Grey teabags?” (in a similar pottery jar).
“Well, your jar says ‘Dried Fruit’, mine says ‘Tea Bags’.”
“But,” complained my poor Punjabi teabags, “why didn’t WE get the proper TEA jar? Why do we have to be Dried Fruit??”
“Just because that was all that was left!” sniggered Mum.
Sometimes I worry about myself, carrying on conversations with teabags (and involving Mum). The phrase ‘tea and a chat’ takes on a new meaning. But when she left the kitchen, I switched the pottery jars round, and turned them so that the labels were facing back. “Now let’s see who gets confused!” (Next time I passed, they were still where I put them, but had been shifted so that the labels were facing front again. Tcha!)
Anyway, I don’t take sugar in my tea, but coffee without sugar is something I can’t get used to. Hence the sweeteners. And I can never find that little sweetener tablet dispenser, so I end up reaching for the big jar of loose sweetener crystals. It’s always in the same place in the same cupboard.
So I said to Mum that sometimes you are glad that things are big and chunky, and normally to be found sitting in the same spot. The little, ‘space-saving’ gadgets are just never there when you need them, but are lying around all the time when you don’t. They turn out to be clutter, and not space-saving at all.
And Mum looked thoughtful, as though she had seen the little sweetener dispenser somewhere and had put it in a jar marked ‘Pickles’, but couldn’t quite remember.