Time to ponder the imponderable.
Today’s instalment of WordPress’ ‘365 Days of Writing Prompts’ proffers this deceptively simple – and oft-posed – question:
“Sliced Bread: (….)What do you actually think is the best thing since sliced bread?”
I’ve been watching this one coming down the track at me for a while now, and have spent an inordinate amount of time wondering what exactly I would consider to be the best thing to have happened since 1928 when, I learn from Wikipedia (where else?), the first working bread slicing machine went into commercial use. Probably.
Thus, I committed the cardinal error of taking something too seriously. I apologise profusely and will do my utmost to ensure that this never happens again.
Mentally I reviewed and rejected many modern marvels as contenders for the title, some with stronger claims than others. The new President of the USA got pretty short shrift, as (I hope) you can imagine. Nor did it take me very long to reject utterly the alleged benefits of innovations such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, chefs’ tweezers and Jedward.
Rather harder to dismiss out of hand was a whole raft of technological wonders, such as the internet, and – really tough one this – the dishwasher. Worthy contenders all, but ultimately it really is impossible to choose.
So look: if you actually want a semi-serious answer, then I’d have to say that, for me, the best thing sinced sliced bread is digital photography. This is based almost entirely on the economic rationale that the marginal cost of ‘doing’ it is as near to zero as makes no difference. That plus the fact that no-one – not even the Boots equivalent of Robin Williams in ‘One Hour Photo’- has to endure the sight of your compositional faux pas (or, indeed- a blurred close-up of your thumb).
Bereft of any further self-generated inspiration, I naturally turned to Google (other search engines are available) for potential new insights that might help to produce a definitive answer to the question at hand.
Of course I found something; it’s the internet, isn’t it? It seems that there is this thing called The Impossible Quiz Book, and what should be Question 6? Why, the very matter at hand:
Sadly, the choices offered, while certainly idiosyncratic and perhaps indicative of a talent for lateral thinking that would have Edward de Bono green with envy, did not really help me get any closer to an ultimate solution. For a start, all these things existed long before 1928 so on a strict interpretation would be disqualified anyway.
Turnips, wasps and cancer, I cannot imagine, are anyone’s real idea of fun and certainly don’t qualify as the zenith of man’s civilisation, culture or technological advancement.
Of the four, France, is by far the strongest contender. I live here and am very happy to do so: what would you expect me to say? Which is ironic really, when you consider that one of the greatest things that France has given to the world is bread that isn’t – and actually doesn’t have to be – sliced at all.
Ultimately, I think we need to recognise that this is just one of those questions to which there is no answer. And that’s fine. But no need to stress about it like this poor unfortunate, wrestling with another of those impossible questions: