Put the Kettle on


Due to a dicky electrical system in this house, or an unnatural ability to pick the lemon (not surprising at all really: we are, after all, the Hills; those joining the longest, slowest queue our family motto is “What can go wrong, will go wrong“) we have gone through four electric jugs in the space of 9 months.  We have learned to keep the receipts, and have managed to purchase each jug from the proceeds of the refund of the last.  When our most recent you-beaut purchase bit the dust after a minor blackout three weeks ago, we found ourselves resorting to boiling water in a saucepan on the stove.  Just like the good old days, the kids reckoned.

Surprisingly, this got me thinking about when I had last seen the type of kettle that one filled from the tap (or other water source) and set on the stove to boil.  The type of kettle that didn’t blow a fuse, or the electricity of an entire house.  The type of kettle that could be used inside, outside on a barbecue or even on a campfire.  The type of kettle that warmed up with a whisper and then sang until you attended to it.  I had owned one in my share house days, until some dumb boyfriend ridiculed my lack of technology.  I should have dumped his ass; the kettle was cuter.  It was curvy and squat like a fat, black hen.  No wonder I loved it.  I don’t know where it is now, but I’d give…well, I’d give a great big box of cherry tomatoes to have it back!

Anyhoo, I told SH that I thought I’d just buy a kettle instead of waiting for him to find the receipt he’d carefully catalogued in a space/time continuum never to be seen again until we start looking for the warranty for the vaccum cleaner and he thought I was mad.  “You’ll never find one,” he said.  “It’s not worth the money you’ll have to spend,” he said.  “You don’t like whistling when I do it,” he said.

But I did find one in a Yass camping supplies shop, and the sales lady was as excited by my wanting one as I was at finding one.  Yes, it cost $25, but it’s pretty much indestructible (compared to the Titanic’s that were our series of electrical jugs), and it isn’t as pretty as my fat,black hen – but it has a retro charm with its angular bakelite handle.  It’s easier for the kids to use, so I don’t feel as stressed and neither does the kitchen Aloe Vera plant waiting for the inevitable “I made hot chocolate for you, Mum”  burns that threatened with pouring hot water from a saucepan.

So it sits on our stovetop, where it warms up with a whistle and sings when it is ready.  The kids love it – they really think it’s novel.  I don’t know whether that’s sad or quaint.  And I love it – I’d forgotten the warm sound of a kettle whistling on the stove.  I’d forgotten that slow ritual of making and sharing a cup of tea.  Not the one where you fill the jug and race around the kitchen grabbing and distributing teabags  and sugar or honey into cups before the electric jug clicked.  But the one where you put the kettle on, and sat, chatting for a while until the kettle started murmuring; raising your voice over the kettle as the conversation got intense, until competing with the shriek of the poor thing, you poured the water into mugs soothing the kettle to a hiccup as you replaced it on the stove.

For all the time the electric jugs give us by being speedy and aesthetic, I’m really enjoying the way having a kettle is slowing us down again.  And it whistles better than my husband. 

I know, I know, you all think I’m mad.  But it’s the little things really.

7 thoughts on “Put the Kettle on

  1. No photo?
    In my paring-down mania, I’ve been thinking of “forgetting to take” our electric kettle. For one thing, I resent appliances taking up so much permanent space on countertops. We do have a tall enamel camping kettle (looks more like a percolator without the insert). Thinking, thinking…

  2. My photo taking to download ratio is 36 to 1 owing to the time factor of downloading, resizing, and getting the kids to come and show me how again because it’s not working. I am trying though. Very trying apparently!

    I think go the tall enamel camping kettle it sounds very chic, and who cares if it is disguised as a chic percolater. Much nicer sitting on your stovetop than taking room on your bench, like you said. The lady at the camp shop reckoned that water from an enamel kettle tasted better. I agree. 🙂

  3. We had a similar thing happen a couple of months ago with the toaster, although I am sure the kettle is next as it is the same brand and we bought them together about 18 months ago. The thing that really annoyed me when the toaster went is that we had deliberately bought the most expensive brand because well, yes they were pretty (hey it was my first home of my own 😛 ) and also because I thought they would actually last! Anyway, since the toaster went I have been using the oven grill and it works perfectly. I just have to be careful not to leave it unattended 😛 When the kettle goes I plan on copying you and going with a good old fashioned stove top one 🙂

  4. I had a kettle a couple of years back because a flatmate who didn’t drink hot drinks thought the rest of us were using too much electricity with the jug. It took forever! And probably cost us more in gas… Flatmates eh. I do know what you mean about the whistle. As long as you’ve got a very loud one that can be heard from all around the property!

  5. I think your stovetop kettle sounds very romantic. I agree about the plastic fantastics that breakdown on a silent whistle from their maker. Actually, I am sick of all these appliances being made for short life to keep the profits coming. G, my partner is always pointing out how things are made to make them difficult to fix. One example is the whipper-snipper we bought last year. It is currently out of action and they have constructed it in such a way that you need a special tool to remove the casing, not just a common screwdriver or key. Annoying, because it is easier to throw it out then try to fix it.

  6. YES! LiD…and that’s what they want us to do, despite knowing wholeheartedly that consumerism and environmentalism are not a good match. For me it’s a relief to recall the easier days and bring them back, but I’ve already had little grumps (kids and SH) complaining that the kettle takes too long (like 3 whole minutes) and that it is too loud!

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