Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire…

A few years ago, I had a holiday in the Greek Islands – and very nice it was too.  Usually after a holiday, I would be complaining to airlines or hotels but this time, I had a very unusual experience involving a faulty cigarette lighter….. and my testicles!

Ronson International
Station Works
Long Buckby

Dear Customer Relations,

I recently acquired one of your lighters.

To be more precise, I acquired a Ronson ‘Colourlite’ disposable lighter in navy/white.1 According to your website, the lighter is “dependable and easy to use” and “comes in 5 vibrant colours”.  What’s more, it conforms to ISO 99942 – which is very reassuring.  The packaging states that it is “child safe approved”. This is obviously a very safe lighter.

Unfortunately, that last statement is complete and utter bollocks.

And talking of bollocks, that just happens to be what the lighter was resting against when it exploded.

Yes, that’s right, exploded.  Like a hand grenade.

It just so happens that I was wearing a pair of swimming shorts at the time.  Consequently, I was not wearing underwear of any kind which might have cushioned the impact. No, my wedding tackle was nestled in a fine net gusset – designed no doubt to allow ventilation in but stop testicles getting out and making an unscheduled appearance down the leg of the shorts when I was reclining on a sunbed.  

As any soldier will tell you, a fine net gusset is no substitute for Kevlar body armour.

I had just been out on the balcony of our hotel room in Mykonos to enjoy a cigarette and returning to the room, I put the cigarette packet and lighter into the pocket of my shorts.  Soon afterwards, there was a deafening bang , followed a split second later by excruciating pain causing me to drop to my knees screaming something along the lines of:


The loud bang, my collapse and the horrendous noises I was making convinced my wife that I had been shot and she went into an immediate panic – unable to decide whether to run to my aid or hide under the bed.  For my part, I was too busy feeling like I had been kicked in the nuts by a very large, invisible horse.

Having absolutely no idea what had happened, I eventually plucked up the courage to put my hand into the pocket of my shorts to inspect the damage.  There, alongside my throbbing testicle, I discovered the lighter – now in two very distinct pieces.

ronson complaint lighter

At this point, you have probably decided that I am making this up so to demonstrate that I am in fact telling the truth, I include a photograph of the lighter taken after the explosion.3

It is indeed fortunate that the shrapnel was not sharper.  The thought of having a two inch piece of plastic embedded in my soft and tender parts still makes my eyes water.

Be that as it may, I (and my wife for that matter) have been through a very traumatic experience.  The incident didn’t do a lot for my holiday sex life either I can tell you!  My right testicle is still throbbing gently as I write this – whether from the lingering effects of the injury or because it knows what I’m writing I cannot say.  I shall probably suffer from bouts of post traumatic stress disorder.

At the very least, you owe me a disposable lighter – preferably one that doesn’t belong on the business end of a cruise missile.  I hope though that you will feel that my unique experience is deserving of a gesture of compensation.

A couple of World Cup Final tickets would be nice.

Yours achingly,


To their credit, Ronson replied straight away:

Dear Anthony,

I was amused by your colourful description of events involving our Colourlite lighter (I am not sure how the girls in our customer service dept viewed it??)4 On the serious side, I was concerned to hear of this incident and am anxious to inspect the lighter to see if I can establish what caused the tank to shatter.  Could I ask you to please send the remains to me at the address below. We will send you 2 x £5 Tesco Vouchers5 to cover the cost of the postage and for you to purchase a replacement – this is a good will gesture made without prejudice.

If you could shed any further light on events leading to the incident i.e. if the lighter had been dropped or exposed to direct sunlight.  Also your photo was not clear enough to read the logo and the date stamp on the metal flameguard on the side opposite to that photographed.  If you could let me know this information by return I can start the investigation.

I do hope your tackle is sufficiently recovered to enable a resumption of normal activity.6

Best regards

Brian Wells

Technical Services Manager
Ronson International Ltd
Station Road
Long Buckby
Northampton NN6 7PF

For the avoidance of doubt, this did actually happen. I didn’t make it up and there was actually a permanent injury which we won’t go into. On the upside, I did give up smoking shortly afterwards and this incident probably helped.

  1. Actually, I think it’s more royal blue but your website calls it navy. 

  2. I tried to take a look at ISO 9994 but it cost 116 Swiss Francs so I didn’t bother 

  3. I bet you thought it was going to be a photograph of my testicles didn’t you? 

  4. They enjoyed it a lot actually.  They emailed me separately to tell me so.  To quote: “ I would like to say, from the girls in the office, you put a smile on our faces!” 

  5. My wife stole the vouchers and spent them on wine so I never did get a new lighter 

  6. Actually, I think that there’s an even greater lack of symmetry than there was before the explosion but everything did return to full working order in a few weeks 

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