Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Sunday 13 May 2012


Strange how unsettling even minor unexpected change can be.

It wasn't so much the finding, on arrival home from Barcelona, that the dishwasher had gone into a huff for my exchange partner, since I don't use it much (perhaps that was the source of the problem). But a few days later the washing machine threw a wobbly (literally - that's what happens when you try to wash too many bath towels at once): like the rest of the kitchen it's nearly 20 years old and the repairman said five years ago that its last repair was just that.

No matter that it was hardly a matter of having to beat the washing on the stones by the riverside (there are launderettes within walking distance, and thanks to the internet, choosing, ordering and taking delivery of a new one is a virtually painless process - apart, of course, from paying for it). No matter that the new machine was delivered in a couple of days and easily connected: there was still a day or two of the oddest sense of unease. Even when it was up and running, there was a period of re-adjustment, even a faint (very faint) echo of what, perhaps, parents of a new baby ask themselves: "It's very quiet - is that too quiet? Should I check if it's all right? Now it's making a noise - what does that mean? It's not leaking, is it?"

It's a reminder that the ordinary certainties of daily life can't be taken for granted at any time, and less and less as the decades advance. More practically, it's one more sign that the whole damn kitchen is about due to be replaced. No more "just looking" and shiny-fondling in showrooms: time for decisions and upheaval. Not that it's unexpected, or a financial problem (money was put aside on the off-chance some time ago, and as it happens some suppliers have some very attractive offers available at the moment); but my toleration threshold for the slog of taking decisions and waiting out the disruption seems to get lower and lower.

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