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How a Kettle Taught Me What is Important in Life by Catherine Bennetto
2017/03/17  |  By:   |  Features  |  

First of all, this is not just any old Argos kettle with a lime scale encrusted spout. This is a traditionally styled, whistling kettle in a shade of sunshine yellow that brought true happiness to my mornings. Ok, I’ve overstated its worth. But it was sunshine yellow and it did brighten winter mornings a smidge.

And now it’s gone. In a usefulness sense. The inside is full of soot, the outside blackened like an eclipse over the sun (-shine yellow), and the whistling nozzle has melted and drooped to the side like a wilting sun(-shine yellow)flower.

This December we decided to rent out our house while we holidayed. We had two sets of guests and one of them has hurt my kettle. And my feelings.

I raged to my husband.

You’re being dramatic – you sound like my sister.’

That was enough to shut me up for a brief half an hour.

I raged to my sister.

‘I’ve got work to do. ’

I raged to my other sister.

‘I’ve just had an operation on my butt. Are you really going to whinge about a kettle?’

I decided against raging to anyone else.

But then I got out my old Argos kettle with the lime scale encrusted spout and it boiled water just like the previous one, albeit in a more austere shade, and I was reminded of a lesson I’d once learned and seemingly forgotten.

Stuff doesn’t make you happy.

My family and I have spent the past four years travelling for various contracts with no fixed abode. (Sometimes our address was literally an Airbnb house in Bath with some strange reading material. The master bedroom had a pile of books by the bed with titles that made you sleep with one eye open.  

Airbnb Host Note: If you’re a sex therapist who specialises in ‘perversions’ and you’ve filled your bookshelves and bedside tables with corresponding reading material you really ought to warn people first. Just so they don’t spend their entire stay looking for hidden cameras.)

Anyway, I digress. The point is during the years of constant travel we had to live out of only four suitcases. And this included home-schooling items for two curriculums. I learned what I truly needed to survive and make myself, and my family, happy. And it really wasn’t much. I need my family, music and decent kitchen knives. My boys need Mum, Dad, each other and some sticks. My husband needed only me. That’s a lie. He also needs cotton rich socks.

We’ve stopped the travel for the time being, just to give the boys some stationary schooling, but it seemed I needed reminding of my lesson. And whilst I did love my sunshine yellow kettle that brightened my mornings no end and reminded me of sunnier times, and used to whistle cheerfully at me *wipes away a tear*, I know that the perfect kettle can not give me true happiness. Decent kitchen knives can.

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