Easter Observations.

Easter Saturday, just been down the supermarket to buy a few victuals for our Easter Sunday lunch. Yes folks – food from a supermarket. Don’t believe all you hear about French gourmet food, for many of us mere mortals, a trip to a regular butcher has become a luxury – anyway, no matter what you buy nowadays, it’s all horse meat anyway.  Just to say, that for the purposes of this post, American readers might like to look up “Kinder Egg” on the Internet before reading.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find the supermarket a fascinating place for studying my fellow. If I weren’t churning out lessons and exam subjects at the rate of knots, I would, take the day off just to push a trolley round the local hypermarket and observe people. This is something I probably get from my mum. When visiting us in small-town France, the highlight of Mum’s visit was a trip to the hypermarket. On the pretext that she was old and frail, she would ask me to get her a chair from the garden furniture department, which she would then plonk in the middle of the hypermarket and just sit on, whilst everyone else navigated round her with their trolleys. At the end of our shop, mum would say . . . « aren’t the French a funny lot . . . « and launch into a lengthy account of her « people watching ».

Occasionally, when I went to retrieve my mum, I would find her with other old ladies, all sitting on items of « borrowed furniture » and all chatting away – quite a feat for my mum with her fractured school girl French.

I tend to observe people at the checkout. Noting what they buy and speculating as to what their lives might be.

« Hmm, 2 kilo economy bag of frozen chips, pack of 12 discount frozen beefburgers – cheap sweets and . . . obviously the person’s in a low paid job and has at least three kids » – YES I know. Very sweeping. However, at the checkout this morning there was an absolute gem.

Thin, severe, no fun, anonymous-looking secretary type woman with those rectangular specs I so hate. Hair cut into a bob – slight to medium build and dressed in smart jeans, high heel boots, dressy jacket and a silk scarf – sort of thing you could wear to work in a provincial, small town administration.

On the conveyor belt – one French loaf and a « ready-to-eat » low calorie tuna and pasta salad with mayo dressing. –AND THEN out her shopping bag, she pulled

  • Three slinky, lace Etam bras
  • One large « economy » pack of 24 Durex
  • 2 pairs of fishnet style tights
  • One bottle of « Céline Dion » perfume
  • 1 Celine Dion CD
  •  A cauliflower.

This is the long Easter weekend, maybe this lady has a little passion planned. She certainly didn’t look the passionate type. Perhaps she is making an effort? Seducing someone new? Saving what she’s got? She’s not much of an expert on the passion thing though. You just don’t buy this sort of gear at the supermarket. We have several excellent lingerie shops in town and two « emporiums » specialised in selling those things which people might use to « enhance » their mutual (or individual) pleasure. Anyway, whatever she’s going to be doing this weekend, she’ll be doing it stinking of and singing to Céline Dion. I wonder what she’s going to use the cauliflower for?

And behind me – a tired looking bloke with one six pack of Fosters and two bottles of Johnny Walker. Just wondering if he wasn’t the boyfriend of the woman in front of me.

Now I want to concentrate on a burning subject – the absolute waste of money in Kinder Eggs – over Five Euros for a pack of Easter Kinder Eggs, and the toys are frankly (insert a swear word of you choice) rubbish.

In the series « Is everything rubbish nowadays or I am just getting old? » An angry old man rant about the quality of toys in Kinder Eggs.

So, I was entering the hypermarket and there, in front of me, a vast pyramid-style display of Kinder Eggs – It’s Easter – so I bought a pack of eggs for the offspring. She wolfs down the egg in 10 seconds, and I get to make up the toy. I like making up toys from Kinder Eggs – at least I used to.

My daughter has devoured one egg and is unwrapping the foil on the next, as I struggle to open the yellow plastic capsule containing the toy.

Erm – is someone taking the piss? I have a snap-together toy car in … two parts.

I remember some kits in Kinder eggs being so complicated, that you needed a degree in engineering to build the damn things. BUT, 2 parts! That’s an insult Ferrero! – Do you think dads are so dumb that they can’t make up at least a four-part kit?  YES, it’s never the kids who make up the toys, it’s always dad, and that’s why dad buys the egg, because he wants the toy.

Seriously, if there are less parts in Kinder Toys it is purely to stop young kids from swallowing them – We all know that your three or four year old is going to leave the chocolate to one side and try to eat their way through the plastic components.

As for the « enjoyability » of the toys – they just ain’t fun anymore.

Come on you Kinder engineers. It is your job to get a maximum of pleasure into a small plastic capsule. For the 2 Euros I spend on an individual egg, I want my daughter to be playing with they toy inside all afternoon.

Seriously – getting maximum pleasure in the minimum of space requires some serious engineering.

Kinder Egg toys are getting worse, so, is this the sign that the quality of our engineers is getting worse?

Does this mean that the job of a Kinder Design engineer only draws applicants of a lesser quality? How much do Kinder pay their design engineers?

Or, is this a sign of political correctness?

Kids are too fat nowadays. They eat too many Kinder Eggs. But when they ate too many eggs, this was only because dads bought the eggs because the toys used to be half decent. SO, if the toys are rubbish, dads will buy fewer eggs. Kids will eat less eggs, and hey presto, we will have a super slim generation of kids, BUT these kids will never have experienced the true pleasure of a decent Kinder toy.

A few years ago, I used to give English lessons to engineering students most of whom were destined for a job in the arms trade. I used to use the Kinder Toy design as a serious engineering project.

Arms are expensive toys. You make a new shell or grenade or whatever, your job is to get the maximum killing power into the smallest space. Why rattle off 155mm, when you can get the same killing power into 40mm. You reduce the size of the shell, you get more shells in the machine – you reduce the size of the gun and the turret – you reduce the size of the machine – you need fewer soldiers. Small is beautiful and small is Deadly.

So, I set my students a task. Instead of getting more killing power into a smaller space, redesign the toys in the Kinder eggs to get as much pleasure as you can into a small space.

The project started with a poll of students.

What would you like to see inside you Kinder Egg ?

Of the 100 students polled we got the following answers

  • Money
  • Exam questions
  • Sex toys
  • Another Kinder Egg

My students finally designed the « Adult Egg » containing a vibrator. In fact the vibrator wasn ‘t inside the emblematic yellow capsule, the capsule was the vibrator. What a stroke of sex toy engineering genius.

Amway, two eggs left in my daughter’s Kinder pack. I will keep you posted on the contents.