Cargo Cult

Tonight’s menu included baked potatoes. I was just about to get them out of the oven when the door came off in my hand. Did I curse and blaspheme …? No: for that 1) the little buggers were, by that point, cooked, and 2), far more importantly, I ordered a new cooker three days ago, HA HA HA. I put great faith in John Lewis: as someone who doesn’t really want to spend much time thinking about domestic matters, I have always felt that the nice ladies in White Goods not only know far more than I do but take it infinitely more seriously. This cooker is only two or three years old, but I think I can see how the narrative developed. The Professor, when in Aberdeen, went and said we needed a cooker. He was not interested in a shopping experience, he didn’t care what it looked like, etc. The nice lady in White Goods sized him up, and said, roughly, well, dearie, this one’s a hundred quid cheaper but it does all the stuff cookers do, I’d just go for it. This seemed perfectly sensible at the time, but even over this distinctly short lifespan, the enamel is starting to go, the grill element prolapsed, the screws which attach it to the back have corroded (this is why we decided to get a new one) and the temperature has become increasingly erratic. What I’ve concluded is that this is a cooker answering the non-question, ‘well, you’ve got to have a cooker, haven’t you?’ and its intended life was one of the odd fry-up, desperate sweaty sessions of Family Funne at Easter or Christmas, and not much else. A cooker for non cooks, and therefore barely functional. The good lady in White Goods was I think led astray by two factors, utter indifference to appearances and also the fact that serious cooks generally cook on gas. But it’s a curious thought, the cooker which isn’t really designed to be used.

8 Responses to “Cargo Cult”

  1. The Man From Maryport Says:

    I rather think this principle applies to most widely available domestic goods - an engineer of my acquaintance assures me that the average Black & Decker drill-for-the-home-handyman is constructed from parts with a designed lifespan of approx 4 minutes actual high-speed rotating, on the basis that market research indicates 99.99% of proud owners use them to fix a picture-hook on the wall about twice a year . . .

  2. Jane Says:

    Interesting, and I suspect you may be right, there is a principle of general application here. The New Cooker is (magari) expensive enough to suggest that it may be intended for practical use.

  3. The dramaturg Says:

    I was with the professor when he bought the piece of equipment in question, and everything is as you say. Our gas cooker has developed rust holes you could post a letter through, and is clearly designed to be neither decorative nor functional, as the real work obviously gets done on the microwave. We don’t have one, so I’m looking out for a sturdy wood burner.

  4. canadian professor Says:

    O for my Boswell AVenue gas stove. YOu have heard of the Thermador in these pages. I find that they cost over $1700 and, apart from flashing e’s and h’s, are v. hard to dope out. It is a cooktop. The oven is in another wall.

    Yesterday I went to a dealership, but it was (did I really expect it to be open?) closed until nex week for renovations.

  5. jill Says:

    Contemplate installing an Aga, a steady and reliable piece of old fashion technology that can multi task. An enamel green Aga will set you back a pound or two or three, but you will earn points in the glamor interior design magazines while you enjoy cooking and heating water. We wish that such a beast lived in Norway.

  6. Jane Says:

    Dear Jill, as you may recall, we do have a Rayburn Royal, which is a very reliable little creature in general, a sort of mini Aga, but simpler. Unfortunately its only vice is that you have to get a professional in to relight it if it goes out (because it has no electric or moving parts but works purely on gravity) and it went out when we ran out of oil. The other problem with both Rayburns and Agas is that much of my cooking is done at high temperature on a stovetop or under the grill. These range-type stoves are very, very, bad at both. Dear Professor, the Thermador sounds a Crashing Bore and I do hope you manage either to come to terms with or to replace the damn thing.

  7. Suscipe Says:

    I share your faith in John Lewis: when I could find only monsters here in California, I rang dear John Lewis in Oxford Street and simply ordered the Zanussi I had been so happy with in Blighty. That was seven years ago, and never a cross word.
    Sorry your experience has been less happy!

  8. Jane Says:

    I similarly have had happy experiences with Zanussi. The Cardboard Cooker (name & shame) is a Creda.

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