and when did you last see your husband alive?


OK, OK, so the banking industry is collapsing and by December we’ll all be taking turns sleeping on Alistair Darling’s sofa and scientists are building a black hole that will suck the entire universe into Switzerland as if Geneva was some bottomless cosmic plughole (which actually it is, I’ve been) and the USA is toying with electing a woman who doesn’t believe in dinosaurs or rocks and thinks all moose are Al-Qaeda sympathisers who must be taken out one-by-one and these are all fascinating subjects for debate and discussion and all that BUT – people, people, let’s get things in perspective, shall we, and address a somewhat more urgent question: just what the hell is going on in those Magnet Kitchens adverts?

You know the ones – they’ve been in the papers for months now. At first, I assumed it was going to be a series but, no, the scene is always exactly the same – only the cropping changes. Clearly, Magnet reckon the kitchen experience portrayed is universal, one we can all relate to, whether we be broken banker, megalomaniac scientist, or eerily fecund slayer of moose. “What happens in your kitchen?” runs the tag, to which the only sensible retort should be nothing remotely like this, thankfully, but I appreciate your concern.

The thing is, though, advertisers aren’t idiots. They send people out with clipboards and biros and they make cold calls. They know their target audience, and they know what that target audience gets up to. Magnet’s desire is for each and every one of us to believe that this Cubista Walnut kitchen range has been especially designed with us in mind. And that’s what’s so scary: Magnet thinks this scene is archetypal. Which is why my fingers are gradually slowing on the keys: if Magnet are right, then a good percentage of you must, even as I write these words, be engaged in activities not too dissimilar to those depicted in the ad, and… I really wish you weren’t…

I mean, are you the blonde with the cocktail shaker? Because, if so, then what sort of sad, spinsterish, sexless life must you lead if the cock-legged concocting of a Singapore Sling can bring such untrammelled, unipedal joy? Or are you her best friend, the pop-eyed brunette on the left? If you are, then please let me know whether you genuinely believe that this demented display of alcoholic juggling – I imagine the psychotic hopping being accompanied by bursts of hysterical laughter teetering into the hypersensitive-canine end of the audible spectrum – is the most hilarious thing you’ve ever seen, or whether you’re simply desperate to be distracted by any activity that doesn’t involve the shiny-bonced guy in the louche suit who, whilst leaning casually on the Urban Citrique granite worktop with built-in modular hob behind you, has just been deep in conversation with your cleavage, and now appears more than a little miffed to have had his spec-heavy discourse on in-car entertainment systems rudely interrupted by some over-exuberant drink mixing. See that lecherous sneer and that killer’s glare – he’s annoyed, he’s contemptuous, he’s thinking about fake leather trims. God, is that who you are? Are you him?

Actually, this seems to be the image’s recurring motif. The woman on the right – the one whose hair looks like small Pacific sea creatures spent 10,000 years dying to achieve its bizarre spongey mass – is clearly uncomfortable with her suitor’s concept of private space. His left hand isn’t visible but, from her grimly cross-legged pose, I think we can all be pretty sure that, in the words of Alan Hansen, contact has definitely been made in the area. My God – are you him? No, not Alan Hansen, I’ve just seen him on the telly with Lineker and Lawrenson – no, the man who thinks it’s OK to continuously touch any woman he’s speaking to, as long as he’s doing it in a stripped pine kitchen rather than a strip pub? The man who, even if he looked round, would have little sympathy for poor old Courtney Cox in the far corner there as she flashes a desperate open-mouthed grimace of despair across the room, searching for female solidarity whilst politely turning down insistent requests for a threesome from the two open-necked lads who’ve pinned her against the quartz crystal sink with integral colander rest?

Are you her? Are you him? Is this what you people get up to when you’re not reading Smoke? Couldn’t you, I don’t know, just walk out, do something else… bring down a bank, or a moose, or a hitherto meek and unsuspecting universe – because surely anything is better than being trapped inside this bleakly tasteful monochrome vision of hell, with its… hang on… I’m just peering more closely, and… 

Is that definitely a cocktail shaker? 

The more I look, the more it seems like it could be… well, an urn.

Oh. My. God. Suddenly, it all starts to make lot more sense. Somewhere, just out of shot – or perhaps at the back of that Cubista Walnut space-saving corner cupboard – is the bloodstained Le Creuset cast-iron skillet the police somehow missed, so embarrassed were they by the obvious distress of the keening widow as she sobbed and hopped around the flat. 

This would, it has to be said, explain everything.

And you people really do need help.