Pangolin Issue 42

As Spring stutters, with snow on the high Pennines this week, my thoughts turn to, er, kitchen refurbishment. Not my favourite subject but, to be fair, it was me who first mentioned the idea in the Cundallhouse. If we replace our old gas hob and oven with a new induction hob and electric oven we will reduce our carbon footprint. When kitchens are involved, one thing inevitably leads to another, so we have ordered new worktops, see the sample of our chosen ‘quartz’ above, and some cabinets as well.

Tamsin Hopkins, my Cinnamon Pencil mentor, sent me her report on novel 2 at the end of last month. To my relief she enjoyed the ending and did not see it coming. She really liked some of my writing but there is plenty of work to do, once we have agreed on a major restructure. Fortunately for me, Tamsin has not advised that it needs a total re-write and, like the pragmatic Keith from Kitchens etc, is quite prepared to keep what is good, and agree a re-working of the rest.

Our kitchen has 22 wooden cupboard doors. A couple of years ago I sanded and re-oiled most of them. Each took at least two hours to sand, even with one of those little power-sanders, because all the fiddly bits still had to be sanded by hand. However hard I tried to meditate, plot or problem-solve while sanding, my brain was always buzzing, but not in a good way. My mindful soulmate was kind enough to show me that some of the doors less damaged by heat, food shrapnel and toxic liquids could simply be washed clean, so the task became achievable. No doubt our decision to keep the “distressed” doors now reflects the effort put into salvaging them then.

A kitchen is not a book, but the process of rehabilitation is not so different. Half of our kitchen will have new cabinets, replacing ones that are beyond rescue, because they have been affected by damp or otherwise are not fit for purpose. There will be the same number of doors, but what is found behind them will be very different. Tamsin likes my main protagonist Freya, but advises that Hereward her almost nemesis, needs a lot of work. About a quarter of the 43 chapters will need stripping out and replacing.

We have also chosen a new sink, not just any sink but an under-mounted one, in the hope that we will never again have to go round the border between sink and worktop with silicone sealant. The taps are called Dante. Somebody from marketing may be able to explain the link between divine comedy and kitchen taps, maybe we will find out once they are fitted? To my surprise, nearly all the popular sinks for 2019 have internal edges at right angles to each other, without any sort of curving of the corners. This ensures that it will be almost impossible to clean the wretched things except with a toothbrush. What madness is this? Fortunately, Keith has found us one with rounded corners. There are fads in literature as well. Tamsin tells me that a lot of agents are fed up with first- person present-tense narrators. Guess which voice and tense I wrote for Freya?

Induction hobs deserve to be popular on the grounds of speed, efficiency and safety, but trying to switch one on can be a mystifying process for the uninitiated. Whatever else my reconstructed novel does, readers should never ever have to reach for an instruction manual to get into the story. The wonder of an induction hob is that it is the magnetism of the hob that induces the electricity and heat in the pan. A good story provides a magnet, which electrifies the reader. Think Neff, not naff.

Please do not forget that the biggest threat to the real world pangolin population lies with the restaurant kitchens and traditional healers of South-East Asia. Don’t let these amazing creatures be traded to extinction. My next pangolin should be out on May 4th, by which time both the novel and the kitchen should be in a state of transformation.

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