But I've noticed that under the letter B, they have a serious ommission. Beeping. Or rather, things that Beep at me.
Let me list the things that beep at me and which are quite possibly going to result in me taking a sledge hammer to them:
1. The Washing Machine
This wins the Oscar award for annoying beeps. It beeps when it has finished its cycle, stridently telling the household (and indeed the neighbours given its volume) that it's time for me to drop whatever I'm doing and hang up the wet clothes because there is obviously nothing more important to do. It will beep loudly 4 or 5 times. Then stop. You forget that the washing needs taking out. Until 30 seconds later, it beeps again. And will keep on doing so until you cannot bear the torture and yank the door of the machine open, yelling at it as you fling wet clothes into a washing basket, where they stay for the rest of the day (because the basket - thank God - can't beep).
2. The Dishwasher
Far, far less offensive than the washing machine, it emits a low level, discreet beep letting you know that it's done. Where the washing machine is your bling appliance, the dishwasher is far more elegant and understated. But it's like an old dear that beeps at you half-heartedly, gives up and then decides several hours later (usually the middle of the night, just loud enough to wake you) that it's time to be reminded that it still needs emptying. Here's a tip dishwasher: I shall empty you, when I run out of clean cups. Until then, shut up.
3. The Microwave
This is loud and obnoxious but can be useful. Sometimes. However, it has a whole repetoire of beeps for any given situation. Should you say put something into the microwave, set the timer and don't turn it on, it will give you a few minutes, and will then beep at you, as though saying: 'Oi, fuckwit, you forgot to turn me on'. But actually maybe I didn't. Maybe I just wanted to be ready to hit the start button a critical juncture. But no, you know best don't you, you holier-than-thou appliance. And let's not forget about your beeping once something is actually cooked. God forbid we don't open your door exactly when it's done. Wait more than 30 seconds and you incur 'Micro-wrath', which could be made into a children's Saturday morning cartoon.
4. The Fridge
The fridge beeps when the door is left open for too long. Fair enough. Useful to know, particularly when you have small boys who plunder the fridge snack drawer, and then in their excitement to rip their cheese strings into thousands of tiny strips, they leave the door open. The beep kindly informs me that it might need closing. But when I'm trying to unpack groceries and the children are grabbing things and dropping bottles of wine on the floor and I'm trying to squash a head of broccoli into the overfull veg drawer, I do not need you telling me to shut the door. I get it. Ok.
5. The Cooker
Now this is one beeper I couldn't live without. You see, I pop food in the oven, go upstairs to 'work' i.e. twitter/facebook/blog and lose track of time. All of our food would be cremated if it weren't for the cooker beeper. But it is particularly strident and when you're say, cooking a roast lunch, and you're trying to get the lumps out of the gravy, and carve the chicken, and not overcook the veg and the beeper goes off telling you that the roasties are done, but frankly you don't have a spare hand, it just adds to the stress levels. I invariably end up whacking it just to get it to shut up, only to forget that I turned it off and we end up having burnt roast potatoes.
6. The Car
The car, particularly my husband's fancy car, has beeps for everything. What do you mean you haven't put your seat belt on and you've turned the key in the ignition? Foolish women. Stop at once. Beep, beep, BEEP! It even beeps at me if I put a heavy bag onto the passenger seat because it has sensed that someone is sitting there and therefore must be strapped in. I have in the past actually strapped my bag into its seat, just to make the car shut up. Then there is the beep saying that you've opened the car door while the engine is running, because God forbid you might want to run out and get something or pop a letter in a postbox. There's the beep letting you know that you've left the lights on (fair enough but do you have to be so obnoxious in your alarm?). And there's the beep that says one of the doors isn't quite closed properly, which tends to be the car hooter sounding, so a particularly vengeful noise and scares the bejesus out of me. Don't even get me started on the satnav telling me to turn around at the next available moment....
Bank machines, trucks reversing, supermarket checkout scanners, mobile phone text messages, mobile phone missed call messages, new tweets, new emails - beeps are everywhere and they're all sooooo demanding! Needy, needy, needy!
Ironically, all of these beeps have been designed to help us. Alert us. Keep us safe. Keep us informed. It's the nanny state gone mad.
So my message to you manufacturers: I don't need my white goods to talk to me. I just want them to do their jobs and I'll see to them when it suits me. Until then, Shut the *beep*