Sunday, January 06, 2013

just in time for burns night

Another thing we got for Christmas was a fireguard, very similar to this one. Sure, it's not an all-expenses-paid trip to Cancún, but it's a practical and useful thing that we will have need of very shortly once the bairn finishes working out how to walk. Same goes for the stair-gate whose packaging was made the subject of mockery here a while back. And it's packaging-based mockery that is my primary subject here too; bear with me for a second first though.

There's not actually any possibility of Nia catching on fire as a result of straying too near the fireplace in the lounge, as it has no capability of making fire as things stand at the moment. It currently contains a convincing-looking load of faux-coals which previously sat on top of some sort of gas fire which presumably shot flames up through them in a vaguely convincing manner. However, it turned out on getting a gas-safety assessment done after we moved in that the whole thing had been installed in a somewhat amateurish fashion (possibly cooked up by my predecessor in the shed, I couldn't say) without any of the various standard failsafes that ideally would exist to prevent you (or, more likely, some small child) knocking the gas tap on and no-one noticing until you tried to put a match to it later and ended up taking out most of the street. So, given that we couldn't envisage ever lighting it (what with having access to both central heating and sweaters) we had it "capped off". As Red Adair was unavailable (what with being dead) a nice man from British Gas did it for us, pretty much for free as I recall. But nonetheless, should Nia take a trip over the edge of the raised hearth area, she could still end up landing face-first in some coals, albeit cold ones, a scenario I'm keen to avoid. Hence, the fireguard.

Just to digress again for a moment, my childhood memories of fire safety arrangements are of some hilariously flimsy one-piece free-standing fireguard which pretty much any child capable of walking could have brushed aside without too much trouble. This one, by contrast, is designed to be secured to the wall with the necessity for drilling and Rawlplugs and all that jazz. How times change.

Anyway, the packaging. I always think that the main thing with spelling and punctuation is to be consistent: make a decision and stick with it. In other words, if you're going to be wrong, at least be wrong all the time. Clearly whoever wrote this label adhered to that system: right, any word ending in an "s" gets an apostrophe, regardless.

The next snippet, which is from the instruction leaflet, is, as far as I can see, punctuated reasonably sensibly. One might argue that the comma in line two ought to be a semi-colon, but these are minor issues. The last sentence is a bit disturbing, though.

"Your fireguard must be no closer than 300mm (approx 12") - against the wall so that burning fuel can escape". No, heaven forbid that our fireguard should contain a sudden eruption of incandescent shards of white-hot death - no, it's important to ensure that they escape into the room, where they will be safely absorbed by the unsuspecting hands of cherubic innocent children and the eyes of adorable puppies.

I assume what was intended is either some warning along the lines of not putting your guard so near the fire that it gets really hot, or a recommendation to put it far enough away so that if the odd bit of smouldering fuel does escape it'll remain within the fireguarded area. Maybe there's some sort of translation from the original Mandarin Chinese via Hungarian thing going on.

No comments: