Owning an Aga will leave the neighbours envious and offer great winter warmth
The desire to be envied by one's neighbours is a weakness shared by most of the human race, and in Ireland we became familiar with numerous outbreaks of ego boosting during the recent but short-lived economic boom.
Many bought things they could ill afford simply to upstage their neighbours but often missed out on the one possession needed to complete an illusion of wealth and status.
Race horses, helicopters, Aston Martin coupes, new kitchens and expensive furniture came and went but this one essential item has outlasted them all.
It is, of course, the Aga cooker, and even if your house is falling down around you, slates slipping off the roof with each storm and your car is an ancient rust bucket, if you have an Aga in the kitchen then apparently your social position is assured.
If you don't believe me just read the property section of any newspaper and you will see that the trophy home on offer usually has an Aga gleaming in the kitchen. Watch the cookery programmes on TV and see how so many celebrity chefs lovingly talk about their Agas while producing sumptuous dishes.
In expensive glossy magazines and society columns, writers will always mention how the home they visited contained an Aga, as if this were part of the owner's personality. There are, of course, posers who only light theirs in winter, if at all and cook on gas or electricity for most of the year.
Clearly they are city dwellers at heart who view their Aga as a desirable status symbol but have little regard for their dogs, for whom drying out while lying against a warm cooker is an essential part of the day. Such people will never know the luxury of pulling on warm wellies in the morning or the need for somewhere to dry wet gloves during lambing time while the beastings from the freezer are gently thawing on the warming plate.
It is, of course, ridiculous that a large lump of cast iron can suggest its owners live a life of country chic with abundant old money and rolling acres.