Why is every can or tin you ever buy equipped with one of those handy ring-pulls, until the *day* you move into your new flat where you don’t have a tin opener, when you manage to buy perhaps the only ringpull-less tin of tomatoes in the entire supermarket, meaning a 15 minute wrestle with one of those dodgy hook things on a swiss army knife that doubles as an attachment for pulling stones out of horse’s hooves?

Oh, my other question is:

Why do swiss army knives have attachments for pulling stones out of horse’s hooves?

Simon Kirk, aged 26 1/4


Simon, thank you for your question.

First of all, a little history of the ring pull. Designed in 1964 by Desmond Garrison, a butchers son from Ealing. His father had lost many finger through careless meat cleaving, and as a result – found the use of the can opener difficult. Desmond’s mother, his father wife, had died some years earlier on a tragic accident involving a small elephant and a packet of chocolate buttons, and was not able to help her long suffering husband to open cans of beans, dog food or picked walnuts.

The ring pull was not employed widely until around 1976, when an EU legislation years ahead of its time (in both the fact of the non-existance of the EU, and it being written in a yet to be invented language) stated that all cans and tins must by the year 2006 have ‘flikneyars’ attached – this being a hebrew word roughly translating to ‘that which shall be pulled back’. Early experiments with attaching curtains, tides and foreskins to tin cans failed miserably, until Garrison, then a train guard for the now defunct British Rail, took his ideas to a local supermarket chain – who quickly began producing tins with these easily removable lids. It was in 1982, however, that the flikneyar trade was severly rattled by the discovery of a local bylaw relating to window taxes. Window taxes, although repealed by government many years ago, and replaced with Council Tax, are still enforcable by law should a local council wish to do so, but only on “non-transparent objects” to make the law seem less objectional. Local counsellors and law enforcers from the mid 80s onwards started taking tax from houseowners and renters for non-transparent objects such as donkeys, pot pourii and kitchen utensils. This enraged the masses, and unrest grew throughout the country, leading to the creation of rebel forces using the power of music to explain their cause. The popular beat combo A-Ha lent their words to the fight, their song ‘Take On Me’, set in a comic book cafe, is an obvious message regarding the tax on opaque reading materials – the visual metaphor, of ‘seeing through’ the comic as some way of saying paper should be see through to avoid tax. By 1988, the rebel forces had grown strong, and ensure the councils of the land could not tax NTOs (non-transparent objects), would break into houses and steal anything not see through.

By the mid 90s the rebel forces had mainly been crushed by anti-terrorist groups and their inane fear of daytime television, but still today, as a tradition to remember the heros which died in the NTO wars (often pronounced NATO), upon moving house or flat with windows, various utensils will be removed from the house during midnight raids by NATO haters. The statistically most common stolen utensil is the can opener and as a form of hilarious jape, NATO haters would also steal any flikneyar cans or tins to heighten the victims awareness to the situation.

In short, you did have a can opener, but it was stolen by someone who doesn’t like NATO.

Your question about swiss army knives having attachments for random tasks such as destoning horse hooves?

Well, simply – the swiss are odd aren’t they. They’re main weapon of choice is a pocket saw with a compass.

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