Print leaves the door open wide for advertisers to take us by surprise

The mute button might enable viewers to ignore TV ads, but there is no print equivalent – leaving us prey to the marketing of all kinds of odd inventions

Ian%20Murray%2C%20cartoon-310108If asked to name the greatest invention of the twentieth century, I would unhesitatingly name the mute button. For oft – as a poet might say – when on my couch I lie, watching cricket on Sky through half-closed eyes, my reverie is shattered by the intrusion of a loud and crass commercial. But all I need do is lift a finger and the menace is abated.

There is no equivalent method of negating press ads. You can turn the page or avert the eye, but, by then, thanks to the nature of the medium, the image and its message are imprinted both on the retina and the brain.

And so it was that my attention was drawn to a second great invention, the iJoyRide horse-riding machine. There it was, leaping out of the page of the morning paper and, seated astride it, an attractive young woman wearing jodhpurs, riding boots, gloves, hat and a merry smile.

That, I think, sums up the young lady. As for the machine itself, it looks like one of those failed inventions of the Japanese, who, you may recall, are forever engaged in the quest for the all-purpose lavatory – a machine that, in addition to acting as a passive receptacle, thrusts a warm, wet loofah between your buttocks, injects a douche of water into the same spot and wraps up proceedings with a sirocco breeze of sand-blasted air, leaving you at once refreshed and strangely chastened.

The iJoyRide, in short, is a lavatory-shaped object with inner workings. You sit on it, press a button and off it goes, simulating the movement of a horse. Your pelvis jerks back and forth, your knees are clenched and your eyes wild. Why?, I hear you ask. What’s the point? The answer, of course, is exercise. Just as the Japanese inventor strives to remove the wearisome task of bottom-wiping from our daily round, others seek the holy grail of exercise without effort.

We know that to have toned muscles and a slim physique we need to exert ourselves. We also know that to do so requires effort, often of an uncomfortable and painful kind. The dream, then, is to discover some means of flexing the muscles, stimulating the blood flow and raising the heartbeat without getting off our backsides. There have been many attempts at achieving this goal, but all have a single weakness and that is that they merely bring outdoor effort inside. The cycling machine, the treadmill, the rowing machine fall well short of the ideal. True, they save the effort expended in leaving the hearth, but that is about all.

The iJoyRide is different. You sit on it and it does the rest. Testimonials include one from James of St Albans who says, “It makes it easy to exercise while watching the game on TV”. Simone of Southampton says, “I hate exercising, but the iJoyRide has been one of the easiest ways for me to tone up my flabby bits, especially my thighs and butt.”

You see the attraction? Simone speaks for a nation. She found the answer sitting on a mechanical horse, and so could you.

No invention of this kind would be acceptable without an accompanying bit of science: “iJoy Ride is designed with a unique 3-axis motion system called ‘Pitching, Rolling and Yawing’. These movements are designed to exercise and challenge your core muscles, specifically those of the back and buttocks, the abdominals and the inner thigh muscles.

“If used twice daily for 15 minutes, this amazing machine can give you the shapely figure you seek. It does all the work for you. Just sit back, keep your balance, and have fun!”

Further investigation reveals that the iJoyRide is not without competition. There are a number of other horse-riding machines on the market including iGallop, which strives for a greater verisimilitude. Instead of looking like a lavatory, it more closely resembles a riding saddle and even has stirrups. Given a Japanese touch, it might also neigh, snort and emit smells.

Alas for these inventions, I fear they are built on a false premise, namely that horse riders are uniformly svelte and toned. From where I work, at home at my desk, I look out from my window on to a country lane popular with horse riders. From my observations over the years I can tell you that the thighs and butts of the ladies who ride by are rivalled in size only by the of the steeds on which they are mounted. They do, however, enjoy the benefit of fresh air and look contented for it.

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