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Date: 03/11/14

Dead Cool

The day after this happy resolution to a minor domestic crisis, another one arose.

Photo of an elderly LEC fridge/freezer

This is a LEC T351 SL fridge/freezer, of about 1983 vintage. My parents may have bought it before we moved house in March 1984, although I don't remember it being in the old house. Indeed, I can hardly imagine where we would have had the room to put it there.

What I can say without contradiction is that it has stood in the kitchen at what has latterly become notorious as JudgeCo™ World Headquarters ever since.

But, a week last Friday, the motor started making a rather disturbing sound. For most of its existence, the motor had been a little on the loud side, but now it was louder, rougher, and had a clear high-frequency element to it which had not been present before. The fridge compartment didn't seem to be as cool as heretofore, either. The little plastic thermometer which I had had hanging from one of the shelves for years showed a temperature of around 11 to 12°C, which was definitely on the high side.

So I finally had to admit that it was time for a replacement. It had been two years since I had made a large purchase (this 'ere PC I'm typing this on now), and I'd rather hoped that my next one would have been a bit more...self-indulgent. But, still and all, after 30 years I suppose it was time (and, in truth, I'd spent the last three or four years holding my breath when switching the LEC back on after cleaning and defrosting it).

I was then left with two questions: firstly, what would I get instead? So out of touch am I with these things that I had little if any idea as to how much a new fridge/freezer would cost. I did a bit of surfing around just to get an idea, and found that it wouldn't be all that much, all things considered.

But the second question was the thornier of the two: where would I get it from once I had found it? I didn't want to buy anything like this online, for two main reasons: for one thing, the delivery situation, which is always a bit fraught for someone who lives on his own and can't be here all the time; and because I wanted to be able to see what I was getting, rather than be reliant upon a rather poor .jpg image on a website and the huckstering of a vendor who simply wanted to get shot of something.

There was a further adjunct to this latter issue, in that I knew that I was going to be limited far less by price than by size. As you can see from the above pic, there's a wall cupboard over the space in question, and this meant that anything over 1m 50 (1m 51 at a pinch) was out of the question. So many of the possible purchases were ruled out at the first testing simply by being too tall (frequently, and annoyingly, too tall by no more than 3cm).

The only solution to what Management Bollocksese would refer to as 'the resourcing issue' was to buy from somewhere where I could actually measure the height of any candidate, as I had figured out that - by standing fully upright - anything taller than the height of my shoulders would be hors concours. This meant somewhere local. But I wasn't for one moment going to consider any of the big chain stores, for reasons of ethics as much as anything else; and the last independent town-centre white-goods emporium had closed down some months ago, just before I might - for once - have had need of them.

So it was to the Yellow Pages that I resorted, and found a local outlet just outside of town. To my relief, Discount Domestics (for it was they) was on Rhosddu Industrial Estate (which isn't actually in Rhosddu, but in Rhosrobin) which was right on a bus route, so on Monday last I finished work and went up there.

I traipsed around for about twenty minutes, immediately ruling out those which were either too tall (what the other people there made of my repeatedly standing side-by-side with the merchandise and sidling up to it, as if about to make an indelicate proposal, I don't know; I'm at the happy age when I'm past caring anyway) or too big, or which had only two shelves in the fridge section, or was (all too frequently) too small in the freezer compartment.

I finally found one which seemed to fit the bill - albeit only just, as the freezer was a bit smaller than the one I had - but the brand name was strange to me, and so I found myself feeling that I couldn't make a decision there and then; more research was needed. So off home I went.

Having done a bit of digging around, and having reached the conclusion that I really had little choice in the matter, I finished work early on Tuesday and went back. My bus journeys that day sound like an order at a Chinese take-away: two 13s, a 12, two 32s and a 21 (with a side order of those prawn crackers which look like the packing they used to put in with CRT televisions, and which tend to taste like them as well).

Back at Discount Domestics, I wandered around a bit more (as much for the look of the thing as anything else), before approaching a member of staff and stating my wish to purchase. We sat down and conducted business in a friendly fashion and concluded the deal for just over 200 (179 for the item itself, 12 for delivery and a further 10 for taking the LEC away). Delivery, however, proved once more to be a small problem. It could have been the following Thursday, except that - with it being half-term and therefore half-team in work, with so many off mumming - there was no way I would be allowed to take the day off (no specific time for delivery could be given, as their delivery bods seem all to be freelances and plan their own routes for the day). The next available day would be Sunday, which I would have to accept and keep my fingers crossed that the old one would hold out until then.

So Sunday morning arrived, and I emptied the LEC out for the last time and pulled the plug. Strangely, bearing in mind my tendency to anthropomorphise things (a trait I wish I didn't have, if only because I have terribly trouble typing it), I didn't feel much sense of unease at this termination. I suppose it was like a natural end. I pulled the thing away from the wall, and realised with horror that a bit of urgent cleaning was needed, especially on the patch of floor it had been standing on; it was rammy, and needed the attentions of a scouring pad to remove the marks of shame.

Then at about 10:40, a couple of big, strong lads with a hired van arrived. While one of them unpacked the new item by the back door, the other one wheeled the dear old LEC off down the path and out of my life forever. So...

Photo of a new fridge/freezer

This is a Teknix FF176W, all gleaming and ready to go. Except, of course, that I had to leave it stand for about four and a half hours before powering it up. Once I had, I found little problem in getting things back into the fridge (except that I had to re-space the shelves a bit), but packing the freezer compartment was like a re-boot of The Krypton Factor. I now simply have no room for manoeuvre (or, put more simply still, no room) vis--vis being able to stock up on frozen food ahead of circumstances.

And, of course, nothing is where I've become so used to it being anymore, although I have come to terms surprisingly quickly with the notion that the fridge is now at the top and the freezer at the bottom.

The freezer compartment seemed to get up to speed (or, rather, down to temperature) within a couple of hours, but it has taken about a day for the fridge to get to where it should be. All now seems to be well, however. Everything's cool, baby...