Dead vacuum cleaner

When vacuum cleaners die

If ever we require further evidence as to the deleterious effects of taking too many stimulants, we need look no further than the vacuum cleaner. Just what the hell is going on? Once upon a time, vacuum cleaners looked like this: They were stiff, upright fellows, made out of good solid steel and usually came […]

A dead printer

When printers die

Dead desktop printers sit like environmental landmines, innocuous-looking booby-traps packed with plastics and metals and wasteful inks. They are the embodiment of ‘built-in obsolescence’, not simply through the use of cheaply-made parts with all the life expectancy of a soap bubble but also by being deliberately programmed to stop working after a certain number of […]

A dead flat screen

When televisions die part 2

To mark the occasion of having notched up 50 dead televisions, it seems appropriate to include this much rarer item found on the street – a dead flat screen. To date, all of the dead televisions unearthed have been of the boxy CRT variety, tubby tellies turfed out to fend for themselves as part of […]

Ironing board

When ironing boards die

So here’s the challenge: make ironing seem sexy. It is remarkable the number of household chores – decorating, gardening, sewing, cooking – that have been transformed into lifestyle hobbies, tasks that people willingly take on for their own amusement, and yet there are still some activities that resist renovation, that refuse to be incorporated under […]

Abandoned magazine holders

When magazine holders die

Brian stared glumly out across the field of stalls and table tops. Rows of white vans lined up behind trestle tables as far as the eye could see, their rear doors flung open as more and more objects were disgorged from inside. A throng of anoraks and beanies shuffled between the tables, moving slowly like […]

A dead tie

When ties die

There was a moment, no more than a nano-second, after I came across this dead tie when I imagined it might be moving. Something about the pattern and the way in which it has been coiled immediately suggested to me that it was a snake, lying in there in wait, silent and all snake-like. There […]

One dead microwave oven

When microwave ovens die

I came across these two items on the same day, not far from each other, and was struck by the disparity of their circumstances. One of them sits there all clean and neat, its plug laid carefully on top. There’s even a lime lying in the gutter next to it, as if Nature itself has […]

A broken pestle with mortar

When mortars and pestles die

Is it safe to say that this item has finally ground to a halt? Safe but, perhaps, not wise. The thing that strikes me about this death, and which, in its own way, is a small triumph, is that I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before. I cannot recall ever having previously seen a […]

Dead crutches

When crutches die

I can’t help wondering if these crutches are here because someone threw them away. No, I realise they have been discarded, left behind, abandoned. What I mean is that somebody was hobbling along, slowly making their way up the hill on their crutches when, suddenly, they heard the call to “Throw away your crutches” and […]

A dead ride-on

When ride-on toys die

I love these discards; broken, worn-out, grown-out. Partly it is the cuteness; the chubby bodies, the tiny monster wheels (if that makes sense), the knobbly controls and handles. Cuteness is all about disproportion – the gangly legs, the over-large eyes – that somehow confounds our expectations without appearing too disturbing. Partly too it is the […]