The warning signs
My memories of the whistling tea kettle can be roughly dated to the time when I was watching a particularly gory episode of the English detective series “Midsomer Murders”. For those of you who do not watch British television, this series is based around a sleepy country community where murder is rife almost on a daily basis. There is an ongoing joke that it is a mighty surprise that there is anyone left alive in this village of death. Anyway, this particular episode involved a sinister looking pensioner who switched on the kettle and was doing something or the other. As the kettle started to whistle, the murderer approached the building. The creators managed to impart an atmosphere of impossible tension. The whistling tea kettle was masking the sounds of the murderer and this poor pensioner was caught completely unawares. Needless to say, she met a sticky end.
The old and the new
This got me thinking about the whistling tea kettle. I cannot remember the last whistling tea kettle that we ever owned in our family. It must have been such a long time and I thought that they had gone completely out of fashion. In fact I tended to associate them with elderly ladies. All was forgotten until I saw that episode. Whereas the question remained in the depth of my mind, I never brought it into conversation.
Then one day I happened to visit a friend who has a penchant for all things modern. This guy is almost obsessed with being cool. He will buy the latest gadgets and attends most of the trade shows to see what he can add to his arsenal of home appliances. I never really expect to see anything old fashioned sullying his home. That means the he is in effect the arbitrator of good taste within our circle of friends.
Therefore I was somewhat taken aback when I saw a whistling kettle in his kitchen. I thought that maybe it was a present from his grandma. How else could one explain the fact that such a hippy guy was in possession of something that seems to be from the dark ages? I ventured to ask him what he was doing with the kettle. He seemed perturbed and answered rather dryly that he owned it. I then explained about the old fashioned thing. What happened next surprised me even more than the existence of the kettle.
He told me that it was one of his best loved items and that he would never trade it for anything else. He also said that he was very much looking forward to updating it when the latest versions came out. As the conversation developed it occurred to me that in fact he was one of those people who had regressed back to the old school once they got tired of modernity. Rather than being a relic of the old age, the whistling tea kettle is coming back into fashion and the great arbitrators of taste have decided that we must all follow their lead and embrace it.