When I was a child, if someone bought a new car, they
had to run it in for months and months. This involved driving very slowly and taking the car to the garage frequently and other tedious things. Journeys that normally took hours took days when you were in a car that was running in. It might even have been quicker to walk.
I used to suspect that the whole 'running in' process was some kind of attempt by someone somewhere to make people take extra good care of their new possessions, to appreciate how lucky they were to have them and generally to spoil their fun. When I was little the air seemed to be filled with a general feeling that spoiling other people's fun was what life was really all about.
But times have changed and now you don't seem to have to run in cars at all, which makes me feel slightly transgressive, whenever I have the chance to roar about at high speed in a brand new vehicle - which isn't often.
The disappearance of 'running in' seems to me to be a piece of genuine progress. Furthermore, if running in was a real thing and not just a bit of spoilsportery, it must have been quite difficult to eliminate whatever the little details were that running in was necessary for. Ingenuity must have been involved somewhere along the line.
Which brings me to today's mystery - new towels. Having solved the complex problems of running in cars, how come no-one has managed to solve the problems of running in new towels? Can it really be more difficult to make a towel that can be successfully used as soon as you get it home than to make a car that doesn't need running in? And yet, each time we buy a new towel, we are still expected to put up with its awful, sticky, sort of non-absorbent, fluffy-but-rather- slimy-and-unpleasant, unrun-in texture for weeks on end.
In our house, as a result, we avoid the whole process. We prefer to use towels so ancient they are barely more than rags - one even bears the laundrytag from the house I was assigned to at a boarding school from which I liberated myself in 1970, which makes it at least 42 years old.
Is there anyone enterprising out there, looking for a terrific opportunity? Who will take up my new, exciting - if not exactly high-tech, cutting edge or glamorous (oh all right, not very exciting - but possibly lucrative) - suggestion and start supplying the world with ready-distressed towels? We - at least those of us in this house - are crying out for such a service. We have cash, we are keen, our dollars are ready in our hands.
(For earlier mysteries see here and here and here)