We have just experienced four weeks and six days without a washing machine. From the moment our Hotpoint stopped working it's been a trial of patience. The saga itself is dull, merely a catalogue of failed diagnoses and screwed up deliveries that most of you will recognise. But living without a washing machine for five weeks was hard, obviously not refugee-hard, or terminal-illness-hard, but within the confines of domesticity, losing this particular appliance is traumatic. My 97 year old granny was deeply sympathetic; the horror of living without a washing machine, even for a day, concerned her greatly.
"You should buy a Miele, dearest."
"We have a Hotpoint."
"It's broken. You must get a Miele. My Miele has never broken. I've had my Miele 18 years. My Miele has never let me down."
When the Man-Who-Knows-Washing-Machines finally pronounced ours deceased, we decided to take her advice; I was desperate, on the verge of tears and wearing bikini bottoms in place of pants. Don't get me wrong, I am not a domestic goddess by any means (my eldest daughter, when aged three, picked up a plastic iron in the Early Learning Centre, and - no joke - asked what it was), but there is something deeply depressing about seeing each of your children morph into Stig of the Dump, about humongous piles of washing growing in the corner of every room, about cupboards stuffed full of grubby towels and sheets. I felt dreadfully spoilt and princessy, moaning about laundry when the economy is going to the dogs and poverty ravages the lives of 1 billion people globally. I reminded myself that only a few hundred years previously I would be sat at the mangle for hours each day, my red-raw fingers scrubbing cinders off rags, while I scolded the children for playing marbles too loudly, and looked forward to bread-and-dripping for supper. None of this helped. I was down to my last pair of bikini bottoms. Soon, I'd be going commando. This scared me.
So, when my Miele arrived, I have to admit, sod the three births and the wedding, this was the happiest day of my life. I literally screamed with euphoric glee. Shiny and new, it glowed in all its Miele glory, its proverbial chest puffed up, muscles flexed.
"You must not vorry any more, Frau Jennings," it purred in authoritative, Germanic tones. "I am here and I vill vosh all of your clozes."
"But Meile," I said, crying tears of ecstatic joy. "How? This mountain of washing..?"
"Zis is no match for me, Frau Jennings. Voshing warst piles of voshing is vot I do best."
And then Miele - with his multitude of programs, his helpful display, his temperature variations, his soft-wash, extra-wash, short-wash, and variable spin - voshed and voshed and voshed, until finally my children stop resembling grubby street-urchins and I am wearing normal pants. These are happy days. You are now safe to venture into my home.
One thing though, if you do come and visit, you mustn't go into the spare room....
...unless you want to help me sort and fold.