The Wiki Man

The inventions (and Welsh rarebit mix) that will change your life

2 December 2017

9:00 AM

2 December 2017

9:00 AM

At last. And just what you’ve been waiting for. The official Wiki Man guide to the best gadgets and gizmos for giving this Christmas.

The Philips AirFryer, from £70-ish. Spectator readers may remember a craze for cooking things via a French method called sous-vide. Using this senseless technology, you could cook soggy food for days at low temperatures by warming it gently in a colostomy bag; handy if you fancied a couple of days off work with botulism, but frankly bugger all use for anything else. The AirFryer is the opposite of sous-vide: it isn’t French and is actually useful. It quickly makes food hot and crispy as God intended, not with fat but with superheated air. Everyone who buys one becomes an evangelist. Available from Amazon and some tax-compliant retailers.

St John Welsh Rarebit Mixture. 250g, £4.99, Ocado. The single best food innovation for lazy people since the Pot Noodle. Spread it on toast, pop under the grill (or in your new AirFryer) for a few minutes, then add Worcester Sauce to taste (i.e. loads). If you have had the original from the eponymous restaurant, this is as close as you’ll get outside EC1. Good for use with the…


Russell Hobbs or Magimix glass-sided toaster, £50-£175, various retailers. They put a man on the moon before they invented the glass-sided toaster. Go figure.

Anything from Selfridges.com. They pack your purchases in such perfect cardboard boxes, elegantly lined in yellow, and are so cavalier with tissue paper that, as a bloke, you could probably get away with not wrapping the contents at all. Best of all, for £15, you get free next-day delivery on all your orders for a year. This suits me as I no longer need to travel into London to buy their goods. I imagine it also suits them as they no longer have a fat middle-aged Welshman wandering around their store and ruining their high-fashion credentials.

Google Pixelbook, £999 and up, from Google or John Lewis. Perhaps your spouse or one of your children has asked for a new laptop for Christmas. If so, I can recommend nothing better than giving them your old laptop and buying one of these for yourself. This, along with many of the newer (and much cheaper) Chromebooks, runs Android applications as well as the Chrome browser. Your children will whine that a Chromebook is not a proper computer, but that is because they are conformist Europhile idiots incapable of independent thought.

Hive or Nest. Most internet–connected devices are merely technology in search of a purpose. But the ability to turn your home’s heating and hot water on and off remotely is genuinely useful. It means older Spectator readers can turn up on winter evenings to a toastily warm seven-bedroom Cotswold rectory that they bought as a second home for £20,000 in the 1970s, while their grandchildren can enjoy a hot shower once they have cycled home to their rented bedsit in Leytonstone.

Sky Q. Yes I know your home’s in a bloody conservation area and you don’t like Rupert Murdoch, but there comes a time to surrender to the inevitable and put up that dish. With Sky Q, children can watch Love Island on their tiny phones, leaving the big telly free for you to binge-watch a four-part BBC4 documentary on the history of the Class 55 Deltic locomotive.

A bitcoin. I still have a few of these, bought for about £100. A few years ago, when they seemed to have stabilised in price, I spent a quarter of a bitcoin to buy a book online. At today’s valuation, it seems I paid £1,830.09 for a hardback copy of Jonathan Meades’s An Encyclopedia of Myself. Fortunately it was very good.

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