How long is a piece of flex?

I bought a new lawnmower a few days ago. The old one was past it and needed to be retired, so I took the opportunity of a 15% off weekend to nip down to Homebase and get a new one.

As with so many large-ish purchases, you stand there in the shop, looking at this bewildering range of articles, wishing for the simplicity of Hobson’s choice: at least then you won’t get home with the new toy and instantly regret not buying one of the other ones.

I had done some research (looked up lawnmowers on the Which? website), and knew approximately what I wanted. As ever, the actual choice presented bore only a passing resemblance to the suggested models. Hi-ho.

Helpfully, the mowers are graded by their suitability for different sized lawns: up to half a tennis court, half to one tennis court, more than one tennis court. Great. I now have to mentally picture myself standing on my lawn and overlay a tennis court on it. How big is a bloody tennis court?

Eventually, I say to myself ‘Sod it. It’s less than one but more than a half, I’m having that one.’ How much is it? Search, search… there appear to be two prices. Oh, fer—. Send a shop assistant off to find out. ‘It’s that price’ (the higher one, naturally).

Buy mower, take home, assemble with only one minor cock-up, plug in and set to mowing the lawn…

Remember that the mowers were graded by tennis courts, and that I bought one suitable for a half to one court in area? Why, then, is the (firmly fixed) flex not long enough to reach across a tennis court?

It’s something I’ve noticed a few times recently: the flex on electrical items is getting shorter. Couple that with laws that are predicated on everybody being an incompetent idiot who is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to shove their wet fingers into some convenient electrical outlet, and it’s getting to be a sodding pain in the bum trying to put the toaster where you want it.

Back around Christmas time, I bought an electric toothbrush that, on the face of it, was the identical model to my previous one. It was the same in looks and specs – it may even have had the same model number. With one exception: the flex was about 9 inches shorter than the previous one, and wouldn’t reach from the outlet to the shelf where I keep the charger bit. Fortunately, the old one still works, so that stayed where it was and I consigned the new one to the Drawer of Stupidly Short Electrical Cables.

I despair at times, I really do.


In case you were wondering, a tennis court is 23.77 metres by 8.23 (10.97) metres. The cable on the lawnmower (suitable for areas up to one tennis court, remember) is 12 metres long. It’s about 14 metres from the electrical socket to the farthest edge of my lawn.

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