The Cosy AGA
The old rambling rectory in which I spent much of my childhood had a large AGA cooker in the kitchen. The kitchen was always warm and cosy because of it and its presence was all the more special because it required careful tending, rather like a beloved pet. One extremely cold winter the compartment that was usually used for plate warming was used to revive wild birds who had frozen in the icy conditions. Yes, the AGA had many uses and even dried our clothes. We put them on a wooden rack and then hoisted them up ceilingwards using a pulley so that they were positioned above its sturdy warmth. Visitors were sometimes puzzled by my father’s suggestion that they make themselves toast because he appeared to be standing by the AGA holding a largish wire object that resembled a tennis racquet. This, it had to be explained to them, was our toaster.
The kitchen was also home to an enormous radio which sat on the fridge. When I was very little I liked to believe that musicians, actors, presenters and a whole array of colourful folk lived in it. It was a small world in itself. The gramophone sat on top of the radio. Given today’s sleek stereo standards it was very basic but it happily played the first single I ever purchased ‘Morningtown Ride’ by The Seekers and also tunefully blasted songs by The Beach Boys, James Taylor and others around the kitchen cocoon.
These days we often toss out old appliances and replace them with a startling lack of sentimentality. So I’m glad that my childhood memories include recollections of cherished objects with whims and inconveniences and eccentricities all their own.