I have exhibit A beside me as I write; it is red, brown, white and black; it is also crumpled and almost totally munted.
On the visual front it started out passing all tests when it was brand new. The packaging was sound – perhaps not attractive – and functional. And the contents appeared uniform and tidy. So, the eyes gave the total package a tick of approval.
It was during use that the goods started to decline. I remembered having written about the product a few years ago so I searched the archives and found it.
In 2018 I wrote:" I've had it with modern matches. Modern matches are frail failures.
"I swear matches of the very brand I am currently using to light the fire used to be far more robust; the sticks were thicker and there was a more generous dab of potassium chlorate or red phosphorus (or whatever the red stuff is) on the end.
"The reduction in red stuff seems to make me strike harder in order to get a fraction more friction but, because the stick is thinner, the fraction more friction invariably causes the skimpy stick to split."
Well, none of that has changed. Clearly, to cut costs, the producers have retained the reduced quality so that breakages and failures are the usual fare.
But, if exhibit A is anything to go by, they have now also cheapened the packaging, the actual matchbox. Shoddy products call for shoddy packaging, they must have decided.
The first sign of trouble came when a line of glue failed. The matchbox cover surrounding the little white drawer was glued where the two ends meet under the striking board, that rough sandpapery strip which you strike against to break your match.
Well, that glue failed so that the cardboard case became more of a wrap-around blanket. In order to break a match on the strip, the whole matchbox had to be held tightly together by the non-striking hand.
I managed to adapt to this requirement over a number of days and was successful in breaking a number of matches but also lighting a few fires.
Then the little white drawer started to disintegrate. The ends of the little drawer involved cardboard folded over and glued down with a minimal dab of adhesive. First the glue on one end failed then a few days later the glue on the other end followed suit.
So what I had now were two pieces of cardboard and a bundle of sticks which I stored in what can only be described as a rough pile. If I felt a strong urge to break some matches or light a fire I needed to grasp the whole assemblage of bits and, using sleight of hand and exquisite balancing skills, perform the required striking action.
Their frailty was no match for my skills.
There are only a few matches left now and after using them all I will be able to discard the scraps of cardboard and start the whole process over with the next box.
It seems, from all of this, that companies have two options when they find rising costs are starting to sting their profit margins. They can either raise their price or they can reduce the quality of the goods and keep the price the same.
I'm picking that the public's response to the first option would be anger. I'm picking that the public's response to the second option would be anger.
I repeat my 2018 plea for thicker sticks with bigger tips but now I add sturdy boxes to my request. I'm willing to pay a little bit more for a return to former quality.
But just a teensy bit.
• Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.