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Smallville: A Heated Debate

It’s ham sandwiches in front of the telly when Peter B Farrell’s oven finally gives up the ghost.

“You need a new oven and hob.“ Stark advice from our daughter last Christmas after she had battled gamely to produce the expected traditional fare at the family gathering.

“It’s done very well up to now.” I countered, and afterwards we congratulated her on a remarkable achievement. As a token gesture, just recently we had invested in a new set of saucepans, not to mention a particularly lethal set of knives...

During a recent foray to the local supermarket I intimated that the Groovy Wedges - “with a crispy potato taste” - in the Freezer cabinet might be just the thing for a speedy Saturday lunch. Time was important as we wanted to catch the rugby International on TV. Iit was puzzling that my wife, Margaret was so enthusiastic about this combination of speed, grace and brutal mayhem.

With the same degree of speed and grace we combined hastily to prepare the lunch.

“Mm, should be ready in about twenty minutes, or so it says.” I had studied the packet, jumbo size of course. Alas, one hour later we were staring in the oven at the pale insipid potatoes.

“The oven doesn‘t seem very hot, did you read the temperature instructions; you know, fahrenheit, centigrade?“ I queried. My wife was now pale but not insipid, she hadn’t my Physics background but she knew “hot” when she saw it. I gloss over the next few minutes, it was my turn to blanche.

Whilst watching the rugby over the ham sandwiches, I estimated the cost of a new double-oven. The old one had been built into the kitchen and was still in old money, inches and pints. It had served us well but had no future in the modern metric world of videophones, satellite navigation and MP3 players. Whatever happened to MP2?

The rugby ended with a predictable amount of blood and I could only wonder at the ability of the players to absorb such physical punishment. We would have ample time to scour the local superstore before tea-time; and as Sunday trading was now universal, there was always tomorrow.

“The main problem madam, is that all modern appliances are of a standard fitting. If your oven is so old, our design team...“ I was staggered by the astronomical cost. Bring on the colour adviser with the Tai Chi, or should that be Feng-shui?

The problem appear to be solved when we sought out a small independent retailer who in the past had supplied our TV, freezer, DVD player, Hoover, radio, CD player, kettle, toaster, computer and microwave. Not the digital camera though.

“You don’t remember 1954 I suppose?” I asked the young assistant.

“A bit before my time sir.” he laughed.

“Well, believe it or not we only had gas-light on our street and running water was a luxury.”

“Just ignore him, we need a modern oven.” Margaret intervened, which translated meant “money no object.”

Apparently, it was quite usual for people of our age to be exchanging old appliances for new. We were invited to take a bundle of brochures, take a few measurements and in no time the selected item would be supplied, fitted and the old appliance removed in accordance with EU environmental and safety regulations.

Back home Margaret concentrated on colour schemes...
“Stainless steel, aluminium or black; quazar or slate?” while I measured the recesses of the existing housing and compared it with the supplied diagrams.

“The only problems is, the old one is too big. We might need to add another cupboard to fill the space, or perhaps another shelf.“ Also a new worktop for the hob which had finger-touch temperature control. The cost was rocketing now and I idly contemplated the cost of take-away meals over the next 15 years as an alternative.

A few days later, notable for the amount of microwave food we had eaten, I had come to some arrangements with a local carpenter.

A simple business which would be accomplished with ease in a couple of hours.

After Items delivered and old appliances removed, shelf is fitted and worktop expertly cut out for the new hob.

Waiting team finish their coffee and biscuits, fit new appliances and make electrical connection, items tested for serviceability.

However...

“Sorry about this sir, we can get the hob in a week but there is a five week delay for the main double oven.”

Which I calculated would be Christmas day or just after...

“Hello, just wondered about Christmas, we would really like to come down to Dorset this year for a change. Oh, and we took your advice about the oven; yes, last year.” Luckily our daughter took it in her stride.

With a 550 mile cross-country round trip I am keeping abreast of the long term weather forecast.

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