Thursday 21 January 2010


My washing machine has given up the ghost. As any of you who keeps house to whatever degree, five people under five, three teenagers, a Company Director who needs her/his shirts immaculate and NOW, or yourself and the Guru, young but nevertheless pristine, this is a disaster. (A serious note: the above has to be taken in the context of the - mostly - lighthearted life of someone 75 going on 40, not in the context of what is going on out there in the world of God- Forbid- level disasters). Anyway, as I was saying, no ghost. To some extent it would wash, but to no extent would it spin. Sometimes stuff came out feeling a bit slimy as if there were still some soap left in; no rinse, then neither. The big Ah Hah to this story is that I am insured. For all the seven years of its life up to now I have been paying for the little darling to be safe and covered in times of difficulty and, you know what, never called an engineer out to it: not once. Now was the time. Some days and many phone minutes later came a very nice man with much equipment and a train to catch. I know this because he was so quick my feet scarcely touched the ground keeping up with him. He put the machine on, added a little soap, pressed this and that, watched for a nanno-second and reported, inter alia, that the pump had gone and so had the spinner. It turns out, since there would be more than £400 of repair costs,it was not worth repairing so I was to be offered "like for like" a new machine.

Before you get lost in your 'lucky you' space I am here to tell you that that isn't to be taken literally. I did. I should not have. Because it doesn't mean that I may have the same mark from the same maker from the same shop for no charge. It means that I must have the make and mark dictated by the Insurer and precure it from the shop of their choice, I must pay certain obligatory charges and I must wait for the letter authorising this. Trying to be open-minded, a week later when the letter duly arrived, I trudged out to the north of London - that WAS literal: there was snow - and in to the most gargantuan warehouse it has ever been my displeasure to get lost in. Not only I; the whole of the bored and snow-sick, road-difficult, fed-up with staying in population was there, too. This is relevant because it made it very difficult to get help. We all wanted some. However, the story can be shortened. I fell in hate with the prescribed machine, or one with a slightly different reference number, and reconciled myself. After all, how different could it be? They must have suggested something that would, at least, do the damn washing. The "more than my job's worth" story really begins six days later when, having paid a take-away charge, and arranged for someone to disconnect the defunct machine - "our men are not allowed to do that" - and, more important, a charge and an extra fee to pin them down to a four hour delivery slot on Saturday afternoon when the Guru would be there to supervise, we waited in vain for my like for like, more than £100 lay-out free new washing machine to arrive. Eventually, it did. By that time the Guru had had to go out and I was uncomfortable with hunger. (Well, you wouldnt risk being in the middle of cook/eating when they came, would you?) I hardly dare describe the scene. You are going to have difficulty to believe me. It is something between a cliched sick joke and an old lady's nightmare. The 'leader' looked around. "No one told me there would be stairs." They did. I did; at least I told the 'service operator'. There is even a turn on the stairs, all spelled out to the authorities. The old machine is several inches bigger than the new but they got it out and in to the rain where the new one, stripped of its wrapping, was also standing; not a job for an old lady but they did it and survived. Now for the new one. What went out must come in and vice versa, you'd think, especially a touch smaller. Actually, no: a shelf must come off, but they are not allowed to do that. Good cop negotiated: bad cop sulked. The door to the laundry must come off. They are not allowed to do that either. See above re good and bad. Further, Health and Safety means they cannot lift it over the turn in stairs. See above, as before. By this time, I am 100 going on 5, stamping my feet and screaming very loudly, indeed, banging on the wall with frustration: all in the inner world, of course, sweetness and light on the outside. Immeasurable time passed until we get to a happy ending - of sorts. In the end the new washing machine was installed. There was mud all over the hall and stair carpet, there was unimaginable mess in the little laundry whose usual impedimenta had been strewn all over the house to facilitate access, but in it was and bad cop and good cop could go. I witheld the £5 tip I had had waiting in my pocket and spent it on a pizza delivery, which I don't ever do. I hate them. But hate was the evening's theme. It was just as well the Guru was out. The story doesnt quite end there but I am hungry again and, overcome with the memory, I have gone on too long, I fear. Suite a la prochaine as they say over the Channel, or the rest next time.

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