Ollie thinks he’s sheltering from the rain, but his wallet gets a soaking

The Banks’ household’s need for a new kitchen catches Ollie completely by surprise, and his offers of advice about how to save 100% on the price are ignored by his wife Lizzie…

“HOW much?” Ollie gripped the edge of the kitchen worktop until his knuckles were white.

“Not so much, really, over the whole life of a kitchen. Pennies a day,” said his wife Lizzie, sliding her fingers longingly over the controls of a gleaming black glass hob.

They were in a kitchen showroom. Ollie had thought they had gone inside to shelter from a sudden downpour. He should have known better.

Releasing his grip from the worktop’s edge, he followed his wife deeper into the apparently endless displays of myriad worktops, cupboard door options, clever lighting, and ingenious storage options. At least, that’s what the advertising notice told him they were.

Lizzie looked at another notice. “Look,” she said. If we have this package, we can save 25%.”

“Stick with me; I’ll show you how to save 100%,” Ollie retorted, but he knew he was on the back foot.

Baby Jack was in his push-chair, and five-year-old Alice was holding on to it. Both were eating biscuits selected from a big glass bowl on one of the worktops, that had been offered by a member of staff. Ollie had leaned over and whispered in Lizzie’s ear: “That’s bait. Or bribery. Right there. Keep the kids quiet until we squeeze some money out of the parents. Mark my words.”

The unhealthy kitchen
Lizzie stopped beside a slender glass-fronted wine chiller. “You’re cute,” she said to it, before turning to Ollie. “Nothing lasts for ever. I wasn’t even born when the kitchen we have at the moment was fitted in our house. We refreshed it with a coat of paint four years ago, but it’s showing its age, and it’s not healthy.”

“How can a kitchen be unhealthy? It can’t catch germs and suffer from diseases, can it?”

“Actually, yes it can. I won’t bore you with the statistics about the quantity of bacteria on a kitchen worktop, but trust me, there are plenty. Those kitchen cupboards of ours are so very 1980s; all corners for dirt and germs to collect, and so difficult to clean. Now that Jack’s walking about with his fingers into everything, it makes sense to have something we can keep clean.”

“And when Alice was little?” protested Ollie. “Why weren’t we so bothered then?”

“Less of the ‘we’, Banks. I was bothered; you weren’t. I’ve spent ages on my knees with anti-bacterial spray and a cloth. It’s a wonder my knees haven’t given out years ago. Getting into those nooks and crannies has never been easy.”

“Oh. I hadn’t noticed.”

Ollie gets ‘the look’
Up went Lizzies’s eyebrows, and down went the corners of her mouth. Words weren’t necessary when she gave Ollie one of her looks.

“I didn’t mean that. I meant…”

“Don’t dig yourself in any deeper,” she advised him. “Look, they do interest-free payments. That should numb your pain a bit. And we don’t have to have the most expensive oven and hob.”

Ollie closed his eyes and sighed. As a keen football fan, he liked to watch Aston Villa the team he’d supported since childhood. Perhaps he wouldn’t get to see them play quite so often this season, as had been the case a year ago. “OK,” he said. “But let’s see if we can steer clear of some of that clever lighting and those ingenious storage options, shall we?”