Kettle Quandary

At the weekend, just as all our party guests arrived, our kettle died the death of a thousand somethings. It boiled its last. It shuffled off its heating coil.

We were heart broken. Our guests were heart broken. We do not do parties where people drown in alcohol and enticing glasses of punch are served. We do parties where industrial quantities of tea is drunk. Even were we to have a cocktail party I suspect we would end up boiling the kettle at some point.

We have a hob kettle in case of emergencies, but it takes ten minutes to get to a boil, the water always tastes funny and it doesn’t have a whistle, so must be watched like a hawk. I spent quite a lot of the party crouched by the spout willing it to boil, and then worrying that it would boil over. It was tense. Very tense.

I have to go along with it, but I can’t like it.

The kettle that died was less than a year old. Neither was it cheap and cheerful. We had expected more from it and were sorely disappointed. Kenwood. With your fancy coloured kettles you have disappointed us, much like the ambassador’s party.

Jason cut its plug off thoughtfully, and as we plunged the dead kettle ceremoniously into the bin he sighed and said: ‘We need to rethink our kettle buying strategy.’

It has to be said that we punish our kettles rather. We are a family who like our tea, and our coffee, and hot water bottles, and everything else, so the kettle is pretty much on a rolling boil. There is no day when we are at home that it doesn’t get boiled at least ten times or more. Imagining life without a kettle is inconceivable.

We are always rather amazed when holidaying in North America about the dearth of kettles in most people’s houses. It’s not that people don’t drink tea and coffee, but we have found that people have hob top kettles or fancy coffee makers. We realise that this is fine, and that all hot drink needs can be met this way, but when you are used to boiling two litres of water on rapid boil in under three minutes, anything else seems troubling.

On Sunday we repaired to John Lewis to get serious about our kettle strategy.

It transpires that our new kettle buying strategy is very like our old kettle buying strategy. i.e. we argued in the kettle aisle for about forty five minutes before throwing our hands up in disgust, getting in the car and then arguing all the way home.

The problem is, that much as I recognise the urgent need for a kettle, I fundamentally dislike the design of nearly all kettles. I indicate this and Jason thinks I am trying to dodge the kettle choosing bullet. In desperation I pick the one I detest the least, but then we have to discuss it ad nauseum while he parades other kettles before my eyes in the hope I will change my mind. It is always at this point that I say: ‘Well you choose a kettle then.’ To which he has to reply in the negative, because apparently it is very important that I choose too. I indicate the kettle I picked the first time, and then we go round again, and again in a moebius strip of frustrated non kettle buying.

He says I choose too quickly, therefore I cannot have weighed up all the pros and cons adequately. I tell him that I am the sort of sad person who often stays up at night contemplating the Ur Kettle from which all other kettles have been spawned, and therefore I can rapidly calculate what will work and what won’t. He says bollocks. I say arsehole. Round we go again.

By the time we get home we are both incensed about the humble kettle and contemplating divorce.

This time it was made more complex by the fact that Jason decided that we need to buy a top quality kettle instead of a mid range kettle, in the hope that it will last us longer than the twelve to eighteen months we usually get out of a kettle. Our choices were even more slender than usual.

Eventually, on Sunday evening at about nine o’clock we buried the hatchet and came to a compromise which left neither of us feeling we have lost face and can carry on living together for at least another ten years. We have gone for a Dualit dome kettle in chrome with black trim. It boils two litres of water very quickly and is neither too ugly for me, or too cheap for Jason.

It was delivered on Tuesday.

I am still at the stage where three days without a kettle has traumatised me sufficiently to give praise to baby Cheezus every time this kettle boils perfectly.

Long may it last.

12 responses to “Kettle Quandary

  1. Hi Katy,

    Absolute love your blog. You make me laugh until I cry. Have never left a comment though and I cannot believe I am finally doing so over a kettle! Anyway….. as a family we, too, are very hard on our kettles and have found it annoying and expensive in the past to keep replacing them. Then we looked into actually getting the ‘anything happens’ insurance you can get at the same time. You know, the ‘are they having a laugh’ insurance. The ‘we’ve already paid out this much, and they want more’ insurance. In our case this works wonderfully as we can ‘update’ our kettle almost yearly at a very low cost.

    What do you think?

    • Hi Kim

      Thanks for de lurking. It is a good point you make. I will talk to Jason about this when he comes back from foreign climes. x

  2. A friend has just had a new kitchen installed and she now has a tap thingie which dispenses boiling hot water at the press of a button (sorry, I have no idea what it is called). I’m posting this from the end of the earth (New Zealand) but I’m sure I’ve seen similar on UK home renovation shows. You deserve one Katy!

    • We did seriously look at these Sharon, but I like to fill saucepans etc and we’ve not found one quite tall enough yet. They tend to be a bit stunted for all the various purposes we put them to.

  3. I was smiling along in recognition with your buying strategies, as they apply to all bin/toaster/shower/coffee cup purchase ‘discussions’ we have too. Then I realised that we received the exact same Dualit one as a wedding present – 6 years ago. A bit broke off the lid recently during some vigorous descaling activity but it didn’t seem to bother it. Fingers crossed I haven’t now jinxed yours, obviously.

    • Someone on FB also told me about their Dualit kettle Johnners and it was also long lived so I am now doubly pleased. x

  4. My current Grand Unified Theory of Kettles is as follows – expensive ones last no longer than cheap ones, therefore I buy the cheapest supermarket jug kettle available (current one was a fiver from Morrisons). I don’t like to treat such things as disposable but having had a ‘good’ (i.e. expensive) kettle last no longer than cheap plastic crap, I’m sticking with the plastic crap. *nods sagely*

  5. Fortunately BB has absolutely no interest in the aesthetics of domestic appliances his only criteria being that they work! This means I buy whatever takes my fancy and suits my budget at the time, generally mid range – although I am eying up a Dualit toaster at the moment . . .


    • I have a four slice Dualit toaster, and apart from the timer going and having to be replaced which didn’t happen until last year, it has lasted us ten years so far with nary a problem. I wouldn’t have any other toaster. Buy one. x

  6. I can’t imagine the Boo household without a working kettle!

    If this one is also short-lived, try buying two cheapish ones? They may not wear out so quickly and at least you’ve got a back-up…

  7. Ooh, I like your idea of buying a back up electric kettle. That is very cunning. xx

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