I am not a very practical person. No, I will rephrase that: I am practical in certain areas (making jam, pickles, bread, baking cakes, remembering birthdays and anniversaries, prodding truculent pension fund officials into action), but I don’t possess the full spectrum of practicality. Admittedly, there are some things I choose not to be practical about: scraping the ice off the windscreen on a cold winter’s morning or working out the intricacies of our borough’s refuse disposal system of four bins and a plastic box at the last count, each of which has to be put in the right place on the right day if it is to be collected (though I pay the price of not being able to join the camaraderie of the worried knot of villagers that always gathers after a bank holiday – I am fascinated by the revenge of the bin men in our hygiene-conscious, recycling-PC age). Equally, my husband, who is much more practical than I am, is helpless (he claims) when it comes to ironing shirts or booking an appointment to have his hair cut. Ours is a symbiotic relationship, QED.
But when it comes to solving problems involving plumbing, carpentry or electricals, I confess to being genuinely out of my depth and always defer humbly to my husband’s opinion. (Apologies to the power-drill-wielding women of the world.) Thus, when a month or so ago, the washing machine stopped mid-cycle and took some cajoling out of its sulk, and I said to my husband, “I think the otnineen’s on the blink!” (I should say that, since our son’s early effort to get his tongue round the real term, we’ve always called it this.), he replied: “It’s just a glitch; you get them with all appliances.” And I believed him. And I believed him on subsequent occasions when it made a wheezing noise (“You’ve put too much in it.”) or ground to a halt half-full of water (“Just turn it off and turn it on again and set it to spin.”).
So yesterday when I called, “Jim, there are thick black clouds of smoke billowing out of the washing machine,” I thoroughly expected him to say, “It’s just having an off-day. Leave it to have a little rest and try again tomorrow.” I was therefore astonished when he came sprinting downstairs shouting that it was highly dangerous and shot into the utility room, outpaced only by the dog, who, as is his custom in any kind of domestic disturbance, had decided that discretion was the better part of valour and de-camped to the garden.
The poor old otnineen – I think it was twelve or thirteen – has now been wrenched out and expelled. It stands in the yard, a forlorn old servant awaiting the white knights from John Lewis to take it away; for you may be interested to know, as I have just discovered, that, like a white-goods Sarah Gamp, John Lewis does layings-in and layings-out for washing machines and will remove the old one when the new one is delivered, at no extra charge. I wonder that there hasn’t been a film made of it, like ‘Departures’. I can’t wait for the new one to arrive: more than three days without doing any washing and my (quite practical) system of never spending more than ten minutes ironing any single load of washing falls to pieces. But I can’t help feeling a small pang for the burnt-out old friend in the yard. I do hope that John Lewis will send it spinning into a never-ending cycle of drum rhythms in the great otnineen paradise in the parallel universe.
5 thoughts on “In memoriam: the otnineen…”
Wow! I have found my kindred spirit! “Selectively practical” is a marvellous concept – thank you for carving that one out! And how about, computers? What happens when there are problems on that front? Do you say a fervent prayer (like me) or start to fix it?
:)))))))))) We have long since come to terms with each other’s practical ‘deficiencies’ and upgraded our personal skill-sets to do well what we prefer doing! 😉 Computers offer challenges of varying difficulty, some of which we can address with acquired skills, but for the serious stuff we both access the resources of the son (he of otnineen fame), whose expertise far outstrips ours. The problem with that, of course, is that we don’t then take responsibility and our learning is limited as a result (to his frustration!).
Thank you for taking the trouble to comment, Katarina. Wishing you prowess in all the practical skills you wish to use!
“You’ve put too much in it.”
Frau bear believes in being careful with the thing. Treating it gently.
I however believe packing a washing machine is an up-and–coming Olympic sport for which I will be summoned and presented the Gold Medal in honor of past accomplishments. They won’t even hold the first session – just present me the medal and move on to some other arbitrary judging in sport (Wait ’till they add form points for track events and do away with the whole ‘finish line’ concept).
The whole “load limit” is a fantasy just as was the speed of sound and as will be shown the speed of light (the equations are completely analogous despite the whole quantum mechanics business).
Two words: Bigger Motor.
Always add more power.*
* motto: union of mad scientists.
Typical male response “you’ve put too much in it”. How often do they load up the machine?? Maybe they should do the hand washing and see whether the machine is too loaded ;D
A wonderful testament to your old friend, Christina. It sounds as if it had been complaining of old age ailments for some time, however. I hope it really will rest in pieces somewhere…