Friday, June 24, 2011

Cockroaches in Vacuum Gassed

New Scientist, 25 October 1962, vol. 16, no. 310, p. 222.


The great vacuum cleaner mystery

Sir, -- Mr Green's interesting article, The trouble with cockroaches (11 October), prompts the following story of an experience of a friend of mine some years ago. Returning late from the club one Saturday night he found everybody in bed, but his kitchen floor alive with cockroaches. Being of a tidy mind he sucked up as many as he could in a vacuum cleaner. Then the thought that they were not dead but merely snug in the cleaner prompted him to connect it by rubber tubing to a gas tap, and to fill the cleaner with gas. He retired happily to bed and slept late. Next morning his wife found the cleaner and thought she would clean up a little: she switched it on and it promptly blew up! The representative of the manufacturers was called in, and he confessed that he had "never seen one go like that before." My friend kept his silence and eventually got his replacement vacuum cleaner. I dare say any surviving cockroaches were highly amused.

R. J. Morley
73 Egmont Road
Sutton, Surrey

[This letter is also reproduced in Denys Parsons, Funny Ha Ha and Funny Peculiar (London: Pan Books, 1965), p. 9.]