Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 3 October 2016
It's not cool to have an AGA
Someone has just described the governance of Britain since the last war as 'managed decline', and I thought what a good blog title that would make. It would make a good autobiography title too, minus the word 'managed'.
There are two very brief periods in every year when it is possible to spread butter on bread without difficulty in our unheated house, and we have just passed the last one. I know when Summer has arrived, because it has to be kept in the fridge and behaves like the Winter sort for about five and a half months.
My friend who lives in Mary Berry's old house on the outskirts of Bath, has an AGA which, if turned off, takes 48 hours to come back to usable temperature. She has no back-up gas oven or water-heater, so her butter has to be kept in the enormous fridge right the way through the year. The fridge is also - mercifully - an ice-maker.
Step-Daughter and her husband were really looking forward to house-sitting and feeding the dogs for a couple of weeks this Summer, because the place is set in idyllic grounds which back onto a small forest next to a tranquil lake, in a secluded and ancient valley.
When they arrived it was great weather with glorious sunshine, but they could not have the doors and windows - which are vast - open because of the dogs. Even at night, the temperature in the huge kitchen was unbearable because the AGA belts out about 120 degrees of heat, 24/7. Within about two hours, they could not wait to go home to central Bath.
The AGA runs on electricity, and after the first couple of bills came in when they first bought the house, the supplier admitted that they had them down as a rural pizzaria. This actually happened.
The first morning that they stayed, husband turned the AGA off, having had no appreciable sleep all night, and that night when they turned it back on to cook was when they realised how long it took to warm up again. It was still stifling in the kitchen, but not hot enough to cook inside the AGA, so they had sandwiches for two nights - even with caged and constantly yapping dogs, and with windows and doors open, it was still about 90 degrees in the dark.
When the owner returned, I asked why on earth they did not have a back-up cooker for the Summer, plus an ordinary water-heater like everyone else.
"But where would we put it?" she asked.
"In place of the AGA!", shouted husband.
If I have told you this story before, think yourself lucky you are not poor Terry Jones's son, who helped his dad on stage last night to pick up an award at the Welsh BAFTAs.