You’ve been granted magical engineering skills, but you can only use them to build one gadget or machine. What do you build?
I can think of a couple of gadgets/widgets I’d like to invent for me, but that’s pretty selfish. So, first, on a global, political level something in the nature of a Loaves & Fishes Machine for feeding the Many Millions, or Instant Rocket Vaporising Clouds to make it impossible for one lot of people to drop bombs on another just because they can. That’s the trouble; I can never just pick one thing. Give me a simple choice and everything… fractures.
Still political, but slightly more fantastical: I would breed a fox that could dress itself up in jodhpurs, a cravat and a smart red jacket (which it would refer to as ‘hunting pink’), heave itself up onto a horse, consume some nice mince pies and glass or two of champagne and then spend all day galloping about the countryside with a pack of hounds, chasing down any convenient human-being to the point of exhaustion, then encourage the dogs to rip the verminous creature apart, still alive. My fox would then return to its luxury lair, well satisfied for having Upheld British Tradition and been So Very Much More Civilised than the foxes of Less Advanced Societies.
And finally, something frivolous but extremely useful – to me. I would invent a Mechanical Moggie Maintenance Module. An hour or so before my alarm clock went off, the M.M.M.M. would silently detach herself from her Charging Pod and start wafting about, collecting innumerable little plastic bowls full of half-eaten cat food, scraping them into the kitchen bin, washing them up in steaming, sudsy water, drying them and stacking them neatly in the cupboard. She would refill a variety of water-bowls, upstairs and down. She would fill up a whole new set of little bowls with fresh cat food and distribute them at strategic distances around kitchen floor and work-surfaces so that every cat got at least some fresh meat and no snarly fights broke out.
She would go outside, in sunshine, snow or hurricane force winds, to put more food out in the dogless dog-kennel for innumerable neighbourhood strays. She would squelch or, more efficiently, hover the length of the rain-soaked lawn to feed the birds.
Then she would come indoors and start on the dirt boxes.
Oh yes, she would start on those…