It's a Guy Thing

Saving Man!

Best Inventions Ever

By Ian Kirke

History will cite an impressive timeline of inventions that have shaped humanity. Stone tools made an appearance around three million years ago. A tad over a million years later the control of fire is thought to have been harnessed by our distant cousin Homo habilis, whilst in 1300 BC the industrialization of iron smelting kicked off in the Middle East. In more contemporary times we have, quite rightly, celebrated the invention of the internal combustion engine, telephone, television, and the jet engine, just to mention a smidgen of humankind’s creative magnificence. Yet, as I review the innovations that have in my opinion been essential for human enterprise, I cannot shake off the 1997 Shania Twain classic, ‘That don’t impress me much’ when viewed expressly from a male perspective. 

Therefore, an alternative list is wholly necessary in order that the specific challenge of masculinity can be safeguarded for future generations. Compare this, if you will, with the development of the concept of Wonders of the World. Initially, we had the original cadre of The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Colossus of Rhodes, and The Lighthouse of Alexandria. Then followed by, amongst others, the wonders of the natural, new and industrial ‘Worlds’. So, I have great pleasure in introducing you to the eight inventions that have saved men. Not a top ten as, contrary to mythology, men are not that needy… 

8. Remington nasal hair trimmer 

As a man leaves the relative comfort zone of his pre-thirties life a certain peril awaits, hitherto in blissful hibernation within the ears and nasal cavities. Suddenly, and without warning, dormant hair follicles burst into life with the joyful explosion of a spring extravaganza. 

When this passage of worrying maturity happened to me I initially sought to cull them with the delicate angled use of my wet shaving blade. After slicing into the lower ridge of my ear, which I have since discovered is called the Antitragus several times, I defaulted to the equally useless endeavor of trying to pull the fuckers out with my fingers, tugging in a pincer movement between the thumbnail and middle fingernail. Although minute these hairs are deep-rooted and hurt like hell even if the extraction is successfully accomplished. Then there are the clusters. Cumulatively these formations feel so deep-rooted that if I am effective in wrenching them all out simultaneously I must confess to feeling a slight twinge in my scrotum. I am convinced that some are rooted that deep. On a separate issue attempting this action within the peripheral vision of another human being, especially a partner, usually leads to a slap and an often-colorful tirade of condemnation. 

All of these dysfunctional behaviors were gloriously swept away on the acquisition of the Remington nasal hair trimmer, a true giant within the male grooming armory. Not only does it effortlessly and magnificently remove those troublesome strands, but you can also trim those eyebrows that from forty onwards are programmed to mimic a mature hedgerow. A legend of a device. 

7. Dyson vacuum cleaner 

The trademark of Hoover has become synonymous with the sucking up of debris from both carpets and hard flooring. In the UK especially the deployment of any brand of vacuum cleaner is simply referred to as ‘hoovering’. When the Dyson offer was launched its somewhat pretentious label as a ‘cyclone vacuum cleaner’ didn’t chime with my very conservative view of domestic cleanliness. Not that I was in anyway a leading light within this domain, but I could at least do the hoovering without any instructions. 

There is also a type of cathartic release that accompanies a brisk and purposeful waltz around my Englishman’s Castle, often singing along to the radio whilst rhythmically pushing and pulling and expertly rounding the various obstacles in my path. The only obvious negative was the emptying of the bag. If the expulsion was completed directly into the outside bin accompanied by a sudden and unexpected gust of wind it resulted in a jumper full of crap. Nonetheless, I remained suspicious of this new kid on the block as it continually dared to explicitly disassociate itself from the norm. 

Then one day two significant occurrences collided, and cumulatively this explosive event would change my life forever. Our hoover (of whatever make) broke down at the exact time that there was a hefty discount on the Dyson equivalent. I am a tightwad. Vouchercloud is my primary App and my wallet bursts with store discount cards. When there is an offer in the air I can respond in the same way as Pavlov’s dogs. So I was tempted to park any prejudices with the added security that if I wasn’t immediately impressed I could simply take it back for a full refund. 

Unpacking the Dyson, I was immediately impressed with the Perspex sheath that allowed a clear view into the workings of this machine. There is something stirring about being within touching distance of raw technology. The Dyson cyclone instantly connected with my inner child who still yearned to conquer and defeat any obstacles in my way by harnessing the ingenuity of human engineering. I was ready, willing, and able! 

As this Space Shuttle equivalent of domestic carpet cleaning elegance roared into life I felt a chill of anticipation. Although I had never piloted this device before instinct immediately took over and man and machine were instantly in harmony. As it glided effortlessly over the dining room carpet I looked expectantly into the collection chamber as it quickly filled with opaque debris. Each glide seemed to suck a sack full of shit from the depths of the floor covering which to the naked eye looked pretty tidy. 

Had we been living in a cesspit? What filth had lain dormant for so long? The Dyson beauty quickly extinguished any thoughts of taking it back in favor of my previous brand. Man and machine had bonded. But that wasn’t all. The ejection of the waste was a spectacle in itself. Pulling the trigger mechanism, the bottom of the removal capsule sprung open like a bazooka and I was, for the briefest of moments, on the battlefield in mortal combat with a bucket load of dust. I had beaten the enemy and vacuuming the carpets (and hard flooring, soft furnishing, and curtains) was now my realm! 

6. Electric tin opener 

On August 25th, 1810 Peter Durrand was granted a patent by King George III, protecting his invention: a food container. Although this invention included vessels constructed of glass and pottery too the metal tin latterly became the stalwart of mass-produced food packaging. Its simple elegance belies the genius of this humble invention yet very often it will defy yielding its contents without one hell of a fight unless you have an uncanny knack! 

Where ordinary handheld tin openers that rely on manual rotations fail, I have been known to employ a screwdriver, pliers, a hammer, and house brick. Failure is never an option when a tin can challenges me to a fight. Even if the majority of the contents are lost or heavily soiled I will be triumphant. My alter ego Ming the Merciless has fought many a tin can and has yet to be defeated. 

However, since the recent acquisition of an electric tin opener, I have ditched my commando response to an errant tin, and I see no future need to engage in anger management therapy. All is well with the World now as this invention not only cleanly decapitates any tin can, but the inbuilt magnet captures the lid so that the whole operation has a certain medical symmetry. A kitchen bereft of an electric tin opener will always be a potential battlefield. This contraption is the United Nations of food preparation. Sign up to one today! Your kitchen needs it! 

5. Couscous 

In recent years, for a variety of reasons, I have occasionally had to fend for myself. Cooking has never been a core skill although I love to eat. Up until a couple of years ago I ate and ate, and ate some more. Then I lost three stone in quick time when the penny finally dropped that being a fat bastard wasn’t sustainable if I sought to achieve my ambition of living into treble figures. A significant part of this journey engaged with changing my diet, especially reducing my consumption of sugar, an often-hidden ingredient in many Western foodstuffs. I became more interested in the traffic light warnings on the side of product packaging. However, the odd energy spike was something I recognized was necessary to complement my occasional physical exertions too. Couscous was a healthier partner and stood head and shoulders above white pasta, rice, and potatoes. 

I acknowledge that a food source is not an invention. Couscous is crushed durum wheat semolina, low in fat, has minimal calories and is a slow-release carbohydrate, keeping you fuller for longer. The invention is created when the hand of man intervenes. A chemical reaction facilitated under careful observation, patience and craft is the method in which this foodstuff combines to meet the rigors of invention. Adding boiling water and stirring elevates this design onto the same platform as penicillin, pasteurization, and anesthetic. A kettle in the hand of man can help feed the World. 

4. Soup maker 

Having grown in confidence by mastering the fusion of couscous and boiling water I was keen to further my extraordinary cooking journey. 

Tins of low-sugar soup were always on hand and now that I was able to open them with effortless ease, a tasty convenient meal was always available. Then one day during a routine conversation about soup, as is my want, a seemingly 

rash suggestion was uttered: “Why don’t you make your own?” I beg your pardon! Make my own? What type of witchcraft was being suggested? Soup was made by experienced food scientists, created in a laboratory, and stored in clinical conditions. The art of soupology was not for the amateur. 

Curiosity, a pursuit to which I am prone and has often led me into the light of wonderment, got the better of me, and I carried out some vital field research by watching someone else operate a soup maker. The artillery shell of the main body was crowned with a removable lid that connected to a mini-industrial blade that would, I figured, blend the intricate foodstuffs that had yet to be prepared by way of the nuclear fusion equivalent of complex cooking. With notebook in hand I watched intently from a safe distance. 

Fuck! Was that it? Even I could peel some potatoes, chop some carrots, dice an onion, and shove it all into the gleaming metal chamber with water and a stock cube! In that instant, I connected with my distant evolutionary cousin Homo habilis and knew that I had discovered my own fire! As the possibilities dawned on me I became excited! I then became my own soup alchemist chucking in all manner of vegetables, throwing extreme caution to the wind by leaving the skins on and even the knobbly end bits. Roughage and eliminating unnecessary waste were now the benchmarks of my dedicated soup range! If you ever come to mine for a meal expect to be greeted with the famous Henry Ford adage, “You can eat whatever you want as long as it’s soup!” 

3. eBay 

Being a traditional shopper who enjoys a mooch around an authentic retail outlet I was less than enamored by the arrival of online shopping. That was until the algorithms hooked and reeled me in like a prime catch, having succumbed to the virtual shopping parade due to the irresistible offers that my son Adam regularly goaded me with. 

The opening search bar provocatively announcing, ‘search for anything’ got me thinking. Anything? I mean, what about all of the speedway memorabilia I had boxed up over thirty years ago? Sold to a dealer for a few notes because at seventeen I thought that a bedroom full of pennants, posters, rosettes, and scarves would scare off members of the opposite sex when I invited them back to admire my etchings. Surely not? Oh, ye of little faith Mr. Kirke. eBay was my Aladdin’s cave of a bygone era where I was able to buy back my old shit! As I purchased more the algorithms worked at full capacity to tempt me into the dark fetish of buying more crap, sorry, quality collectibles. One day, as I admired my chock-a-block home office man cave I smiled and said to Adam, “One day son this will all be yours. When I go what will you do with it all?” Without hesitation, he replied, “Get a skip!” 

2. Trousers with inbuilt stretchy waistband technology 

For gents of a certain age, this provides reassurance, reliability and discretion. One can still boast that the waist is whatever size, even after a blow out at a favorite restaurant, whilst the discrete machinery manages the sometimes-awkward discomfort of feeling that you may simply explode at any minute. 

With the need, especially in later life, to visit the loo more often this feat of incredible engineering allows you to pass a toilet without necessarily thinking, ‘maybe I should then.’ 


I am convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the male brain is unique in terms of its memory matrix. For example, try as hard as I can, bar tattooing them onto my limbs, I cannot recall the dates of key birthdays. I struggle with my kids and I only have two of them. 

My tendency to forget may be partially explained by the fact that I am not really fussed about age, wishing more to evaluate what I can actually do, than to have some self-congratulatory pat on the back that at “whatever age” I can still do “X”. I do concede however that forgetting to acknowledge someone else’s, especially close family, can lead to Armageddon. is the online comparable to the late-night garage that has at 2am in the morning saved many a man en-route to the hospital to celebrate the birth of a child with the purchase of a clutch of blooms, provided a suitably compassionate card for a loved one, and chocolate. The essential get out of jail items. is the champion of saving one’s ass as it dutifully reminds me of the key dates well in advance for me to create my personalized card. With a few clicks of a button and an upload from the mobile phone giving the subtle impression that I have agonized for ages over the script and accompanying imagery with Leonardo da Vinci aplomb. Thank you for watching over me at these sensitive times. I owe you. 

So men, there is your list of essentials. The inventions that will protect, nourish, keep your place clean, maintain your movie star persona and help you regain lost nostalgia. Please no clapping. I am unworthy. Having said, that I have always fancied the Nobel prize category for Peace, as in peace of mind… 

© Ian Kirke 2021