TODAY YouTube taught me how to make a flamethrower using a can of lubricating oil, an elastic band and a cheap plastic cigarette lighter. I also learned that Coca-Cola is a fantastic toilet cleaner and that one can remove rust from metal bathroom surfaces with tomato sauce.
Best lesson of all was how to descale a shower head without removing it. Just point the thing downwards, enclose it in a plastic bag filled with vinegar, secure it with an elastic band, and – voila! – after a 20-minute soak it will work as well as the day you bought it.
The YouTube tips and tricks videos are called “hacks” and I spent a fascinating half-hour watching things I never thought possible. Some, of course, are just plain dumb. I mean, who in their right mind would uncork a bottle of wine using an electric drill, a screw and a pair of pliers?
I’d gone onto YouTube to see whether anyone had made a simple video showing how to silence the annoying sound our newly-acquired LG smart microwave emits whenever it completes a cooking cycle. All I could find were instructions only a qualified electrical engineer, armed with an array of sophisticated tools, could follow.
We were compelled to get a new microwave when our old one blew up a while back. So off I went to our local branch of MediaMarkt and wandered around in a daze marvelling at the vast selection on display.
At one end of the range were ugly models with basic knobs your gran would find a doddle to use. At the other end were expensive, futuristic creations with an array of bewildering touchscreen icons.
Finally, convinced that there is no kitchen device ever created that I cannot master at stroke, I went for an LG model straight out of Star Wars – and stumbled at the first hurdle. The bulky instruction manual was made up of only Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.
Of course, I found English instructions on the Internet, but they might as well have been written in Swahili, and the touchscreen symbols did not appear to match up with the ones on our model.
So I had to revisit the foreign manual, and I was dead chuffed to discover that I could actually understand the instructions better in Spanish, but it was with a furrowed brow that I stared at a tiny illustration that appeared to show a mobile phone being held up against the oven.
Then it all became clear. LG devices with a Smart Diagnosis™ function can communicate problems you may have with their appliances to call centres once a link is established between phone and device. Clever stuff!
Yesterday, I was back at MediaMarkt, this time to replace my husband Marcus’s fitness band which I broke by accidentally smacking it with a suitcase as it was charging in a wall socket.
After I had chosen the model I wanted – an Huawei – a very helpful assistant told me that, for an extra €20.00, I could have an Huawei body fat scale with a Bluetooth function that would allow us to track our weight and a bunch of other stuff via our iPhones.
The good news was that setting up this sleek little baby was a piece of cake. The bad news was that the Huawei phone app informed me that my weight – 65.7 kg (or 10.34 stones in old money) – was 14 kg higher than it should be for someone of my age (71) and height (5ft 4in).
This depressed me so much that I lost all interest in finding out whether the other numbers recorded were good, merely OK or utterly catastrophic.
Perhaps someone who understands these things might care tell me whether a body fat percentage of 25.4 per cent, a body mass Index of 27.0, a muscle mass of 46.2 kg, and a body water percentage of 55.1 – to name but a few – means I’ll live to buy many more gadgets.
Or should my next purchase be a good funeral plan?