Earlier this summer, in a cacophony of failed bearings, our washing machine called time on this family’s laundry, and with one final blast of uneven spin, finished a load of nappies, and went to live on a nice farm in the countryside surrounded by lots of other very friendly washing machines, fed on only the finest soap suds, and tucked up at night to the lullaby of the Calgon ad.
Then our fridge, taking umbrage at being left in charge of the eggs and half a bottle of orange juice while we went and sunned ourselves in southern Spain for a week, broke up with me in the most passive aggressive way possible, by leaking a sludgy composite of the contents of the freezer all over the kitchen floor to greet me on my return.
It was only a matter of time before the oven was going to get in on the action wasn’t it. And the writing had been on the wall for a little while, but I thought we’d reached an uneasy compromise. I promised to open the oven door at least once in every hour of cooking time to let the steam out, and, when finances permitted, to summon the very lovely man with a van to give it the spa treatment; steam bath and a good exfoliation all over including the removal of not only the door, but also the fan plate at the back; and in return it tacitly agreed to keep cooking the food, and only to trip the electricity after that crucial one hour mark, and if possible, not at all, especially if the Celtic game was on.
We were staying together for the sake of the children (and H).
But no longer. At lunchtime on Sunday I turned the oven on to heat some bread rolls. The fuse box responded with an audible clunk.
In the intervening week, I’ve tried running just the light and the fan for an hour “to encourage it”, cajoling it with the promise of a nice roast, or cake if its preference is for sweet over savoury, and H, in complete support of my pet theory that in the male brain the Pavlovian response to the phrase “problem” is “screwdriver”, even pulled it out of the cabinet to see if a good masculine death stare would do the trick.
We got ten minutes at 200, during which we allowed ourselves to dare to hope that all could be well, before the house was yet again plunged into darkness. Even our wonderful local electrician sounded the death knell.
I can take a hint. And so in the next few weeks, subject to a little measuring, and a few financial contortions, I will move on; I will find a new comrade in my daily potterings around the kitchen, and we will be happy (not least because the one I’m eyeing up has a child lock on the door).
But there’s one thing that still smarts. You see right up until a week ago I had an oddly functioning, but still actually functioning oven. At that time it contained the usual amount of grease and tarnish for a domestic oven, but crucially, it also contained the remains of an ex baked potato. The sort that explode into a thousand tiny lumps that frazzle and singe into some bizarre crisps/popcorn hybrid before becoming welded to the floor of the oven.
And so on Saturday night, I removed the shelves, I scooped up as much potato debris as I could, and I set the oven up overnight with its favourite all natural cleaning mixture. I cleaned it out on Sunday morning before church and the rest of the sorry tale, well, you already know how it ends.
Yes, I admit it, and it’s what really cuts to the bone; my oven died a death because I lovingly and tenderly cleaned it.
I can only conclude that it was shock.