Cherished item 001

I know the photo omits the spit and polish of a Vogue magazine cover shot, thats because this is a work-a-day tool that had ‘some work done’. Its a Dualit Combi 2+1 toaster which I bought in 1997 for a very very princely sum. I’m embarrased at the amount I spent on a toaster. I could have bought ten, yes ten fertile acres of the panet Mars which we now know can produce enough potatos to feed a working martian biologist.

What makes this special is the quality of toast and critically, it is repairable. I grew-up in the 70’s when petrol was scarce and TV’s were rented on account of their high price. Back then we repaired electrical items when they broke which happened more often than today. I hear people say “They don’t make them like they used to” which is the same trope as “the sun always shone on my childhood summer holidays.” Its not that design or manufacturing standards were woeful in the 70s, but plastics, product testing and high reliability know-how was. Bakelite (an early plastic) was used everywhere and became brittle then failed. You were crossing fingers every morning for a 70s British car to start although the reasons for it failing include poor design, manufacturability, management, training, materials…

Back to the toaster, my beloved chrome toasting box. It toasts bread every single day from two to twenty slices a day (if the house is full) – perfectly. I’m talking Rolls Royce toast ready in a jiffy. It has manual levers to lower and raise the bread/toast, a rotary mechanical timer that ticks like a roadrunner time bomb, a clam basket for making toasties, a toasting light and crumb tray. Its a bugger to clean and keep clean so has accumulated years of perma-grime.

Recently one of its four heating elements failed which meant the backup £6 Asda was deployed until old faithful was repaired. This is why I like this toaster. The maker, Dualit sells spares online or over the phone. So after a short call and three days the postie delivered the new element. Dismantling the toaster is not tab A into slot B easy and requires some tools however it is repairable in 30m.

This is why its cherished. Our expensive workhorse performing one simple duty perfectly every day of the year, ready for its next 20 year stretch. Repairing it is a pleasure and rewarding. Pity we have gone through six kettles in the same period. Embarrassingly expensive to buy, cheap-as-chips as it stretches into toaster teens.