Alan Dee: A cable conundrum that threatens to strangle us all

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I call them marshmallow jobs – the sort of tasks that you think won’t take long and will give you some simple domestic satisfaction, but instead turn out to leave you feeling decidedly queasy after only a few minutes, and anxious to quit. You know, like you think a packet of marshmallows is going to be delicious but after just a couple you feel quite sick. No? Just me, then?

But we’ve all got them. Every so often the current Mrs Dee attacks the airing cupboard, carefully folding every towel, sheet and stray valance and then going on about it for the rest of the week. It’s one of her marshmallow jobs.

Cleaning the oven is another – not hers, not mine, which is why it turns out to be such a pain when we finally accept that it has to be done.

But these are repeated, if irregular tasks, and you pretty much know what you’re letting yourself in for.

Far more depressing are the one-offs, jobs that you’ve been meaning to get around to for years but always found to an excuse to avoid.

Which brings me to the cable box.

When successor civilisations cast their eyes over the wreckage of our way of life and wonder where it all went wrong, I predict that cables and connectors will loom large in their thinking.

How, they will wonder, did this people spend so much time and effort creating this stuff when it was apparently never used?

The cable box, in case you don’t have one, is the capacious crate into which every stray bit of technical linkage that has made it over the Dee threshold has been dumped in recent years because, well, you know, it might come in handy.

In a fit of domestic duty linked to the imminent arrival of a weekend guest, I undertook – not willingly, mind you – to sort it out.

And by sort it out, Mrs Dee – still full of righteous wrath after another bout in the airing cupboard – made it clear that she did not mean moving in into the garage and ignoring it for the rest of the decade.

There were phone connectors, of course, and those little sets of headphones that seem to come gratis with almost everything you buy these days.

But there were also power leads still sealed in their cellophane packing, and little indication of what they would ever have connected to the mains.

Now that almost everything comes with a wireless option, this forlorn spaghetti of spurned technology was an object lesson in obsolecence.

After a fruitless half hour trying to work out which bits we really needed to keep, which went with items which were thrown out long ago, and which were ripe for recycling, I firmly announced to the household at large that all the cables would be available for viewing, and rescuing, in the garage for the next week, after which they would be conveyed to the dump.

They’re still there – just six more years to go...