The toaster that became a slice of Eighties life

Ann Treneman wonders what to do with her Dualit
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Sarah Ban Breathnach used to think life had to be perfect. Now she knows it just has to be perfectly simple. Throw out those shoulder pads, forget the Filofax, downsize the Dualit. The Eighties are dead and finally we know what the Nineties stand for: simplicity itself.

Breathnach knows this because she's making a mint out of her book, Simple Abundance: A Day Book of Comfort and Joy. This book of essays - don't miss "The Art of Puttering" - has sold more than one million copies in the US and has been near the top of the New York Times best-seller list since April. She is now working on another book, called Authentic Success, at her home in Maryland and I am hoping one of those chapters is going to be entitled "What Do You Do with the Dualit?"

This is one of the questions that haunt as the Eighties fade away. Let's face it, the Dualit toaster for the home was the Eighties. It is oversized, shiny, expensive and wears its label on the outside. It is, as they say, aspirational. The Eighties kitchen counter was cluttered - what with the pasta maker, the espresso machine, the industrial-size juicer - but no one minded clearing the equivalent of a hectare or two for the Dualit.

The others are now safely out of sight but the Dualit remains. After all it was more of an investment than an appliance: downsizing the toaster is just too ruthless. Here we begin to show some similarities to the tribe in the South Seas that is rumoured to worship a washing machine. Could it be the Dualit is also divine?

Other Eighties relics are easy to dispose of. Off the coast of New Jersey some inventive souls are recycling tyres by sticking them together with concrete and dropping them into the ocean to make a "reef". Shoulder pads could be sunk in this way too. Filofaxes are worth saving for the leather alone (remember, BSE Britain could be cow-less in a decade).

A Dualit reef is unthinkable. Clearly we need another strategy. I turned to the Conran Shop for advice. Its spokeswoman, Bridget Bodoano, is a Dualit-owner herself: "I think the thing to do is to carry on using it. It's such a good thing. They are just timeless." The stylist at Kitchens, Bedrooms and Bathrooms magazine also assures me its curves are fashionable.

"We're selling them like hot cakes," says Ms Bodoano. "Have you seen they are doing colours?" Dualit, still a family business based in south London, provides hue details: now you can toast in Canary Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Mint Green or something called Utility Cream.

So this is what you do: update. Or you could just grin and bear it - making sure that Alessi tea kettle is also visible - and wait for the Eighties revival. It won't be long and I'm sure Ms Breathnach would agree that's the simplest thing.