Is that the Comet? My vac's broken

MORECOMBE and Wise Christmas Specials on TV, bowler hats and our motor industry – all great British traditions which, sadly, are no longer with us. You can add to that the tea trolley which was once such a familiar feature in our offices. A food company m

MORECOMBE and Wise Christmas Specials on TV, bowler hats and our motor industry - all great British traditions which, sadly, are no longer with us.

You can add to that the tea trolley which was once such a familiar feature in our offices.

A food company misses these institutions on wheels so much that this week it launched a campaign to bring them back.

It argues that as we are spending longer than ever chained to our desks - working the most hours of all EU member states - we should reinstate the trolley tinkling its way around the office serving a refreshing cuppa and a snack to revive the wilting workers.


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Now it is running a competition for people to win a tea trolley for their office so a "whole new generation can experience the benefits".

I wonder whether it will be essential, as it seemed to be years ago, to have said tea trolley pushed around by a lady past the first bloom of youth, wearing a turban and with a cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth, dropping ash onto the refreshments being dispensed. Oh, happy days.

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And talking about times past, I was intrigued by the headline on a press release which popped into my in-box the other day. This announced: "Comet is turning 75 on May 18."

I'm sure that, if memory serves correct, the Comet first appeared on May 18, but it was 37 years ago, not 75.

How could someone have got that so wrong? But then, reading on, I realised that the subject was the Comet electrical store group (We used to get phone calls which began: "Is that the Comet? My new vacuum cleaner has gone wrong." I wonder how many calls our namesakes got declaring: "I've got a story for you.")

As far as I know, the other Comet never dealt in tea trolleys, unless there was a now long-forgotten electrically-powered version which could have been promoted as a fast food outlet.

What they have sold in times gone by makes interesting reading. Pre-1960, the most popular lines were radios.

In the Swinging Sixties, cathode ray tube colour televisions were the stars of the shelves.

Into the Seventies, automatic washing machines were the top sellers in 1971-72 and Teasmaids - can you imagine anyone having them by the side of the bed these days? - were the product being snapped up the most in 1973-74.

The next year, upright vacuum cleaners - replacing the cylinder variety which looked like dachshund dogs being dragged around on a lead - were all the rage.

Other items which came and went in the popularity stakes over the last 30 years were Sony Walkmans - imagine the look of disgust if you offered one to a teenager today - VHS recorders, Sony Discmans, cordless phones and Minidisc players - all of them now only fit for a museum.

It is difficult to imagine that scorn will be heaped on digital cameras, iPods and LCD TVs but it is bound to happen one day.

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