Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things once common, now extinct. No. 6: Wire coat hangers

This is quite scary. It can't be much more than a year ago that I was saying something about the breeding habits of wire coat hangers, and how if you put two of them together in a dark and confined space - a wardrobe for example - then the next time you opened the door there would be twenty of them.

And now they've gone. The entire species has been wiped out. I've been over the whole estate with the ghillie, and there isn't a single wire coat hanger to be found. I can only think that some terrible plague has descended upon the poor creatures when we weren't looking. Iron pyrites - is that a disease? Tin-worm is, for sure. I've owned several cars that were stricken with tin-worm, and it can be very nasty. But even tin-worm isn't that rapacious - I mean you don't get whole fleets of cars disappearing overnight because of it. (Though I must say I haven't noticed many Hertz adverts lately.)

I'm wondering if maybe the demise of the wire coat hanger isn't due to over-culling. They're easy game after all, very trusting, and every bit of them can be put to good use. Broken lavatory cistern? Wire coat-hanger. Makeshift hook for your Black and Decker hedge trimmer? Wire coat hanger.

Indoor TV aerial...haloes for the Nativity Play...blocked U bend....sculpture armature...Glastonbury bracelets...the wire coat hanger is the solution every time. Or rather it used to be. We've hunted them to extinction it seems, and now we must live with the consequences. Our own fault, as usual.

An alternative explanation, I suppose, is simply that the ubiquitous plastic coat hanger has driven our native species from its natural habitat. Maybe there's still an isolated colony of them on Brownsea Island, or somewhere. If anyone should happen to know of a breeding pair, I'd be grateful. I've got a loose exhaust pipe that needs wiring up. Also, I'm still not quite finished with Mr. Tibbs, our giraffe-necked cat.


Carrie Berry said...

Hi, Steve. As an engineer I see the second and third uses in everything and never throw away anything that can be used for something else. Wire coathangers are great for stretching into weird places, especially using the hook end. They are easily twisted and broken to become skeletons for papier-mache sculptures. Now what to do with my obviously quite rare stash - sell them on ebay or trade them for one of your collectable editions? :)

Steve Augarde said...

Hi Carrie. Hang on to them! They'll be as good as real estate in a few years time.

Masha said...

I still have a couple hanging about in the back of my cupboard, and its true, I do have a tendency to use them when I've dropped something down the shower drain...
But anyway, I'm so pleased I found this blog. Ive recently started writing a series on people who both write and illustrate. The posts were inspired by your books, actually, and the first post was on Winterwood. You can read it here:
and the other posts on writer / illustrators here:

Steve Augarde said...

Wow. Thanks, Masha.

A very interesting and beautiful looking blog. I'm astonished, and rather intimidated, by all the flash options available out there nowadays. I keep meaning to do something a bit more adventurous with this one, but it never seems to rise to the top of my list of priorities.

Cat Morley, of Designers Who Blog, has just sent me some template ideas, so I'm fast running out of excuses not to catch up with the rest of the world.

Masha said...

Well, less really is more. Isnt that what is so great about blogging? Its just straightforward.
I teach web skills so I enjoy fiddling with templates, but its not everyone's fave occupation :)