Hob Knobs And HobNobs

Dear Mum,

I’ve always thought that if you have a hob with four gas or electric rings, and the control knobs are up the right hand side, that there’s a perfectly logical order for them. The first one should be the front left; then front right; then back right; then back left. So you start front left and just go round in an anti-clockwise direction. But different manufacturers all seem to have different ideas on the subject.

And when I say ‘the first one’, by that I mean the first one as you stand in front of it, i.e. starting at the bottom in the photo, just so there’s no confusion!

The place where I was living in the UK ten years ago had exactly the layout I’ve just described. Perfect. But when I moved in 2002, the layout started front right and went round in a clockwise direction. Confused the hell out of me! Not one of them was in the right, logical place. I was forever turning on the wrong ring. And being electric (the hob, not me!), I’d often turn on a ring to heat up, leave something on top of it, and come back five minutes later to find the one next to it glowing red. Even after four years, I rarely got it right first time.

Here in my little apartment in Cyprus, I have yet another configuration to get my head round. It starts front right; then front left; then it goes back left; and finally back right. It drives me mad every day. Once again, not one of them is in the right place.

The difference here of course is that I’m using gas, so getting it wrong is slightly more serious than turning on the wrong electric ring, but at least you don’t have to wait as long to find out.

gsexplosion.jpgFor some reason, only one of the automatic igniters seems to work, so I have to use matches to light them. I can regularly be seen holding a match to a gas ring until it burns down to my fingers, while gas is pouring out of the ring next to it. One day there’ll be a big bang, and it’ll all be over, and I won’t have to worry about it any more. But until that day, there’s little chance that I’ll ever get it right. My brain is programmed for the only logical sequence that’s ever made any sense to me.

hoblighter.jpgMaybe I should buy some longer matches! Or a proper gas lighter like the one in this picture. I saw the exact same one by the checkout in a shop the other day, although the one I saw was in colour! (ironically enough whilst purchasing a packet of HobNobs amongst other things). I thought to myself at the time, ‘I must get one of those one day, innit’. Why I procrastinated about it is a bit of a mystery.

So am I alone in this? In thinking that there’s a correct and logical progression for the hob knobs? Clearly there’s at least one manufacturer that agrees with me. But for the life of me I can’t come up with a valid, reasoned argument as to why my logical sequence should make any more sense than any other. I mean, it makes perfect sense to me, and the more I think about it the more logical and right it seems to be. I just can’t tell you why.

Finally, as I sit here writing to you, sipping at a cup of coffee accompanied by a couple of the aforementioned HobNobs, I was wondering, do they make hobs with knobs up the left hand side for left-handed people? And if so, do the knobs follow the same sequence as the right-handed version, or is it reversed?

Goodness only knows life must be difficult enough for left-handers in a right-handed world without having to reach across red hot pots to adjust hob knobs with their left hand. And I had a quick peek in a dictionary of synonyms to see if there was another word I could use for left-handed, and these were all alternatives given:

Awkward, bumbling, bungling, butterfingered, cack-handed, clumsy, ham-fisted, ham-handed, heavy-handed, and inept

I’m sure left-handed peeps everywhere will be delighted, innit!


©MPB 26/November/2007


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