What Abigail and I knew about manufacturing at that time added up to not much. We had done ‘Charlie & the chocolate factory’ as a set reader in Lower two and knew the Gene Wilder version off by heart but beyond that our knowledge was patchy. I wracked my memory to try and think if I had ever met anyone who had ever manufactured anything. The best I could come up with was a girl called Louise in Gosport & Fareham youth orchestra. We shared a music stand in the second violins and her dad worked at a factory that made plastic.
At our next meeting I fed back to Abigail my progress in this area and asked for her help.
AE: ‘So we need to work out how we can make larger quantities of porridge in less time. At the moment how do you make it?
FE: ‘In the Magimix’
AE: ‘So basically what we need is a giant Magimix’,
FE: ‘I don’t think that such a thing exists’
AE: ‘Hmmmmm, this is more complicated than I thought. You need to get on the internet and find companies that sell machines and buy a machine.’
This is everything I knew about machines at that time:
1: If you dip your hands in the ultrasonic machine at dad’s surgery it cleans your fingernails.
2: If you rock the two-pee waterfall in Haying arcade backwards and forwards an alarm goes off and you get chucked out.
At a push I could outline the role of the Spinning Jenny in the industrial revolution and discuss the effectiveness of The Wrack as a medieval instrument of interrogation but after that I drew a blank.
Luckily Google was at hand to give us immediate access to the exact type of giant Magimix that Grasshopper needed to scale up the business and move towards profitability.
After entering various combinations of search terms, with or without brackets, I came up with the contact details of a firm in Belgium that supplies machines for industry. I dialled the number and spoke to several different Belgians and attempted to make them understand that we were looking to invest in a giant Magimix. Communication was hampered by the language barrier and the fact that I lacked even a rudimentary understanding of food-preparation machinery. Representing the future of British industry I persevered and ended the call with the name of a machine that could, it seemed, be right for us. I gave Abi my report and the name of the machine.
FE: ‘ The name is: MYCOM HAMDAS. I’m not sure if it’s exactly what we are looking for but it’s in the right ball park’
AE: ‘Are you sure that it is suitable for fruit and cereal mixing?’
FE: ‘Well not exactly, but I’ve tried my best and we’ll just have to find out’
AE: ‘Hold on, I’m Googling it…Ok I’ve found it’
FE: ‘Is there a picture? Does it look like the right thing?’
AE: ‘There is a picture….Well, it just looks like a giant machine’
FE: ‘What does it say? Is the website in English?’
‘AE: It says ‘removes skin, kneecaps and bones, speed: 700 legs per hour. Oh no. Fleur…tell me you haven’t placed an order’
FE: ‘No! Of course I haven’t….I have just ‘registered our interest’’
AE: ‘Well, you have registered our interest in a giant Belgian pig abattoir machine. Well done.’