"The jug is dead. Long live the jug."
After many years of faithful service, my electric jug could no longer muster the strength to boil water. Old age and decrepitude had set in, not to mention a touch of dementia. Depressed, the jug took to its bed. It could no longer work; its days of independent living were over.
The jug doctor agreed with me.
"The kindest thing to do would be to put it painlessly to sleep in a yellow council rubbish bag."
So that's what we did. And then, in an attempt to short-circuit the grieving process, I decided to go shopping for a replacement.
The new jug, Woolworths' cheapest, was not yet fully grown. It was unable to live without a permanent connection to the power. The previous jug, properly mature, had a base from which it could detach itself and walk around at will, sneering at the toaster and pulling the leg of the slow cooker which, poor bullied thing, simply couldn't run fast enough to catch the jug and give it the pummelling it deserved.
But the new jug had just a single power cable which needed to be unplugged in order to take the jug over to the sink to fill it with water. Mind you -- once the water was in the jug and the power cable was reconnected, it boiled up really well. When the jug was just a young, impressionable pot, long before its element made a full circuit, someone had obviously invested a lot of time and effort in the potty training of it. But nevertheless the constant plugging and unplugging was a nuisance. Robin never really took to it at all.
"It's an ugly juggle," she said. "It will never mature into a juggernaut."
"But it's doing so well," I protested. "It's really very proud of itself."
"Humph!" said Robin, unconvinced. "What's it got to be vain about? Is it pretending to be a jugular?"
And there things lay for a while. The jug soon settled in to the routine of life as a Robson. In its maturity, it adopted a new hare style (jugged, of course), but it never did learn how to free itself from the tyranny of tethering.
Things came to a head one ominous Saturday..
It began much like any other Saturday I got up and boiled the jug. As always it was grateful for the attention, and it steamed up a treat. I made a cup of instant coffee. Sipping thoughtfully, I wandered round the kitchen making a shopping list.
"Buy stuff," I wrote. "And beer."
I decided to check with Robin and see if there was anything special she needed. She was still in bed, snoring gently. If it hadn't been for the noise she was making, I wouldn't have been able to see her at all. She appeared to be mostly cat. Porgy was draped over her head, Harpo was warming her feet and Bess was curled up on her tummy.
"Need anything from the supermarket?" I asked.
"Urrgghhhnnnngggggg," said Robin.
I wrote it down. "Anything else?"
I wrote that down as well and went to Woollies. I came back laden with stuff. And beer. And Robin's special treats. I put the stuff away in its proper place and the beer in the fridge. It took a bit longer to find a place for Robin's things, but eventually I fitted them in. Then I went into the bedroom to report to Robin. Neither she nor the cats had moved in the hour or so that I'd been away.
"The urrgghhhnnnngggggg is in the cupboard," I said, and the gggdddnnwwwgggsssnig is hanging up."
"Pppppussleflush," said Robin. She began to twitch semi-humanly, a sure sign that she was about to get up. The cats eyed her anxiously and adopted defensive postures. Zombie-like, Robin rose from the sheets and twitched herself into the kitchen.
Disdaining the jug with which she still maintained her hate-hate relationship, she poured water into the coffee maker. She delicately inserted a filter paper and spooned coffee into it.
She flicked the switch and the red light came on.
Gradually Robin became aware that the coffee maker was silent. No gurgles as water trickled through the coffee grounds steeping thick, brown life giving liquid from them. Nothing. Silence. No coffee. The horror! The horror!
I raced into the kitchen. Robin, a look of extreme shock on her face, pointed inarticulately at the coffee maker.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!" she explained.
I examined the coffee maker carefully but the conclusion was never in doubt. It was broken. No coffee.
"It's dead," I said. "Bereft of life, it is no more. It's pining for the fords -- anglia and cortina. Possibly prefect."
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!" said Robin, and she hit me with the new gggdddnnwwwgggsssnig.
I made her a cup of instant coffee and she became capable of speech once more. "Let's go shopping," she suggested. "We can get a new jug as well as a new coffee maker." And so that's exactly what we did.
The electric shop had lots of goodies on show. Jugs and coffee makers in every shape and form known to humankind, and some that weren't. There were gleaming stainless steel ones and black dramatic plastic ones. Some were tall and thin and some were short and fat. And every single one had a digital clock embedded in the base, goodness knows why.
"Pick me! Pick me!" The chorus was deafening. And each had its own undeniable charm.
Robin's heart melted. "Can we take them all?"
"Ooooh look at that! It's shiny! Do we need one?" Robin's attention was distracted and she poked a gadget of particular intricacy.
"No, we don't need one," I said. "What is it anyway?"
Robin gave me a look of withering scorn. "It's a gadget of particular intricacy of course," she said. "According to the leaflet in the box, it opens cans and circumcises gerbils."
Something else attracted her attention. "Oh that's so clever," she said, dragging me over to the other side of the shop where something sparkled in the sunlight that poured through the window. It was long and slim with far too many knobs and switches. There were slots festooned with heating elements for making perfect toast. Nestled snugly at one end was a pot with a small coffee filter and clipped to a convenient clip at the other end was a deep dish with a detachable lid into which eggs could be broken. The leaflet explained that, in less than four minutes, this technological marvel could simultaneously make two slices of toast, a pot of coffee and a poached egg; all of which would reach perfection at exactly the same time. An ideal breakfast with no fuss or bother.
"?" said Robin.
"!" I replied.
"0", I said firmly.
Finally we chose a squat black coffee maker with a clock, and a mature jug with a base from which it could easily detach. The jug didn't have a clock, but it did have a blue light, which in my opinion, more than made up for its inability to tell the time. We took them out to the car and drove home. They were both apprehensive and they cried throughout the journey. However once they were plugged in and filled with water, they soon settled down to make the best of their new home.
The tethered jug, predictably, was not happy.
"What about me?" it wailed. "Didn't I do a good enough job? Wasn't my water hot enough? Didn't I deliver copious quantities? Please don't do this to me. Please."
"There, there," I said soothingly as I unplugged it, and its light went out for the final time.
It went without a struggle. Perhaps, loyal to the end, it knew that this was for the best.
I keep the corpse on the kitchen windowsill. I like to think that it enjoys the view.