My previous cooker gave up the ghost a week or so before last Christmas, its oven ceasing to function in the middle of my cooking roast lamb and potatoes for a meal with Rory and Sarah. The food was nearly ready and Rory salvaged the situation by heating the lamb on top of the stove and frying the potatoes.

Subsequently, we had to choose a new model. It had to fit the existing space – I was not about to remodel my kitchen. I wanted a gas hob, and I thought I would manage with a gas oven as well. I didn’t want anything fancy – no timers to put it on when I was out. The deceased model offered all these services and I had never got the hang of them. I wanted four hob spaces, a grill, and an oven – just a cooker that cooked, basically,

I was astounded at what you could pay for a cooker, but we found a Hotpoint (I’m not a brand snob but I would like a name that I’ve heard before and can pronounce). It was black, but it met all my requirements and was a modest enough price. John said we’d need to replace the (white) extractor fan; I thought it would do, but it turned out he was right.

We ordered the cooker before Christmas, for delivery on 5 January, checking that if they reduced it n the sales we would be refunded the difference. John kept an eye on the website, and in due course it was reduced by £50, with a further £25 off orders on a particular day. So on that day we returned to the store and spoke with the manager (a charmless oaf, as it happened.)

I had expected there might be a bit of negotiation, perhaps an elegant bout of fencing, but it turned out to be more of a brutal   how-to-shoot-somebody-who-outdrew-ya exchange. No, said the oaf, we couldn’t have the £50 off; we had bought prior to the sale; and we couldn’t have the £25 off because we weren’t buying on that day. John turned to me. Could I tolerate it if he cancelled this order and we bought the cooker elsewhere? I smilingly agreed. At this point the hobgoblin we were dealing with suddenly remembered some extenuating circumstances which made it possible for him to give us the full £75 off the original price – just this once only, mind! We became agreeable and thanked him for his kind help and consideration.

Anyway, on the due date, two men arrived, who removed the defunct cooker with surprising speed and installed the new one. It’s amazing how attached to one’s (old) cooker one discovers one was.

However so far I have made Onion soup, potatoes and croutons mince and potatoes, mince and pasta, an oatmeal apple crumble, and John has made a loaf of bread. All have turned out just as you would hope.

It looks very smart; black and shiny with chrome handles.

My washing machine will no longer wash woollens reliably – it cooks them. So I wash them by hand, rinsing and spinning in the machine. It’s no big deal. It’s not that difficult. But today I find myself looking at it and wondering, Do they make those in black?