Gaffer Tape

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One of the most useful inventions of all time.

Where would we be without it? It is used by road crews for bands all over the world to secure leads and cables so the band members can perform without tripping over. It can be used as a get-you-home fix to hold various bits of cars/motorbikes together. It can even be used to repair tents so you don't get wet when it rains.

And you can never find a roll of the bloody stuff when you want it.

For an inanimate object, gaffer tape seems to have the most irritating sense of humour. You must have experienced it — you need a piece to do a job and end up spending twice as long looking for the roll as it has taken to begin the task and ultimately end up going out to the nearest hardware store to buy a roll only to get home and find it sitting there as innocent as a newborn and more annoying than a persistent mosquito.

How does it do this? Why does it feel that it needs to do this?

In fairness to gaffer tape, I find that when I am working on a bicycle, a certain spanner has a habit of disappearing for a while just when you need it most, as do keys. It is odd how you can put an object down and instantaneously lose it for half an hour. But it always has a tendency to reappear just as I am about to lose my temper and threaten to bin it (when I find it) and buy a new one.

How is it that these and many other man-made objects can vanish from sight and then mystically return when humans have been trying to do this for years without any form of success? I bet people like Houdini would have loved to have known the secret. Can you imagine the amazement of the audience if they had witnessed him step behind a garden cane and simply vanish, only to materialise moments later from somewhere in the auditorium where he would have been unable to run to even if he were an Olympic-class sprinter?

Spanners are also capable of this particular feat. What is really bizarre is that the bigger the spanner, the faster it vanishes. So why is it that my ten-pound sledgehammer always seems to be content to stay where I put it and never wants to hide from me when I need to use it?

Having said that, the sledgehammer currently lives in the boot of my car and goes to visit places with unwanted masonry so it does get to travel quite a lot more than, say, my twelve-millimetre spanner.

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