My friend and colleague Translucent Kettle, who has died at the age of 15, was the pre-eminent heater of water in the immediate household. A constant presence within the kitchen environment, 'TK' enabled the consumption of tea and other hot drinks for almost half a generation. Staunchly upright and firmly customer-focused, Translucent Kettle bubbled its last on Wednesday 26th February after a short illness. Immediate family have been informed.
Translucent Kettle was born at Argos, New Oxford Street, at 6.42pm on Tuesday 30th November 2004, emerging fully formed from Collection Point 'C'. Delivery would have been earlier had it not been a tough week in the office, which had required working past Argos's closing time the previous day. Protection during initial transportation was provided by a cardboard box and diverse internal packaging. The previous incumbent, a late 20th century Morphy Richards, had to be unexpectedly withdrawn following a sudden and catastrophic failure.
Translucent Kettle slipped out of its plastic sheath and irregular moulding with ease. This revealed a game-changing cordless design, whose base was soon plugged into the wall to begin a lifetime of service. Familiarity with ergonomic processes initially proved challenging, including spout orientation, lid-flipping technique and switch depression, but Translucent Kettle was soon being treated like one of the family. Within minutes the first Tetley One Cup bag was being warmed by a falling stream of water to create a reassuringly familiar beverage. It has been estimated that almost twenty thousand mugsworth have been brewed since.
The sterling service provided by Translucent Kettle was well-known for following a familiar pattern. Fluid from the cold tap was allowed to enter its internal cavity by means of the force of gravity, then a switch flicked to stimulate electrical resistance within the coiled element beneath the reservoir. When individual molecules were sufficiently agitated a bi-metallic switch triggered a cessation of power, allowing the now-boiling water to be poured swiftly into a waiting receptacle. To those from an earlier era all of this might have seemed truly miraculous.
Translucent Kettle's masterstroke was that it was translucent, allowing clear sight of the water level within. As its owner remembers, "When you live alone it's important not to boil more money than you really need. Not only does a 'one cup' option decrease the financial burden of your electricity bill but it also destroys the planet just that little bit slower. Translucent Kettle was a true eco-warrior long before the international media jumped aboard the climate change bandwagon."
Translucent Kettle spent most of its time in the company of its friends Earl Grey Teabag Stash, Diamond Geezer Mug and Woolworths Tea Jar, hemmed into the narrow hinterland between the fridge and the cooker. Their staunch fellowship, and close proximity, allowed for the efficient creation of a choice of leaf-based beverages according to taste. The most prolonged partnership was that with Teabag Stash, but Tea Jar always took the starring role first thing in the morning. Although crucial to the production process, at no point did Polyethylene Milk Bottle and Translucent Kettle directly interact.
Key events in the life of Translucent Kettle include facilitating the first cup of decent tea after flying home from America, generating hot water during prolonged boiler failure and providing familiar reassurance after an unexpected family bereavement. The owner also warmly recalls deliberately exceeding the maximum fill line to see what would happen and the relief on discovering all was well. When the local water supply failed but it turned out Translucent Kettle still contained sufficient liquid to permit the brushing of teeth, celebrations ensued.
Over a period of fifteen years and three months Translucent Kettle provided hot refreshment for almost dozens of visitors. Their choice was usually tea, but occasionally the presence of builders and artisans required the preparation of coffee, for whose benefit a tiny jar of Nescafé had been procured. It goes without saying that Translucent Kettle always poured its water into the mug after the addition of bagged leaves, but before the immersion of milk. "That's not a bad cuppa" was probably the finest accolade Translucent Kettle ever received.
But the battle against the ageing process proved an unexpectedly tough challenge. Chalky deposits which had built up within the interior proved harder and harder to shift, despite regular descaling. The red plastic float designed to display the water level through the translucent surface snapped off through overuse. And because plastic cannot be described as unreactive the surface gradually became more discoloured and blemished over time, having been indisputably white when factory-fresh. "I am not drinking tea brewed out of that," said one guest during Translucent Kettle's later years.
In early February the red light within the rear-facing on-switch failed to illuminate. The time taken for initial start-up to become audible then gradually extended. Finally this week the auto-shut-off entirely failed to trigger, and the need for manual termination became necessary. With the beleaguered mechanism now unable to perform its key duties unaided, a decision was made to terminate life support forthwith. Translucent Kettle boiled its final mugful of water at 11.33am on Wednesday 26th February 2020, after which the machine was unplugged and 'TK' was allowed to die with dignity.
The funeral will be held at the Tower Hamlets Reuse And Recycling Centre, Yabsley Street, at 11am on Thursday 27th February. Informal dress is encouraged. No flowers. A reception will be held afterwards at a local venue. Liquid refreshment will be available. Translucent Kettle is survived by its partner Big Disney Mug and an entourage of bereaved teabags.
BIRTHS: At Westfield Stratford on Wednesday 26th February 2020 at 1.56pm, to John and Lewis, a son 'Ken Wood'. Baptism has already taken place in line with religious practice. Adoptee and baby are doing well.