The washing machine had been making death rattle noises for a few weeks, and I’d got used to it; and to fishing out slightly soggy half-spun clothes. Then, one dark day, it Just Stopped. Completely.
I was bereft. Great piles of pasta-sauce-stained toddler clothing began to mount up. My husband absent-mindedly mopped up a spill with a tea towel rather than paper towel and I was mentally filling in my divorce application. Surely unreasonable behaviour? I worked my way through the Yellow Pages; washing machine repair companies either demanded sum sufficient to feed family for a week just for a call-out, or, when I told them the model number, laughed patronisingly and indicated that the machine we inherited with the house may well do as a quirky find on Kirstie’s Vintage Home, but was unlikely to see active service again.
Then a phone call from Anna’s nursery. Did I not notice that she was liberally sprinkled with spots and almost certainly contagious when I dropped her off that morning? No, because she wasn’t. No, really, I promise, she wasn’t. They must have just come. Honestly.
So then we were housebound amongst our growing mounds of filthy towels, clothes and bedding, adding layers of calamine lotion stains in for good measure as we battled chicken pox, or ‘chicken pops’ as Anna called it. Clearly this all meant that my new year’s resolutions relating to more exercise, healthier eating and better organisation and time management had to be put on hold.
Then a spate of people saying profoundly depressing things to me:
Anna: “Mummy, I think you’re getting chicken pox too, you have a very big spot on your chin.” (I wasn’t getting chicken pox, I just have a spotty chin. Apparently)
Nice Man from John Lewis: “I’m afraid due to a mix-up we can deliver your new washing machine this week but not remove the old one or plumb in the new one. However, as a gesture of goodwill we will pay for someone else to remove the old machine if you can organise that.”
Nice man from washing machine removal place: “Your hot tap connection’s broken. I can’t turn it off. There’s hot water going everywhere. You need an emergency plumber.”
But then, things started to look up. An emergency plumber sorted the spurting tap. A mop and bucket sorted the flooded kitchen. And I successfully plumbed in the new washing machine myself, a fact of which I am inordinately proud.
Anna’s temperature came down, and her mood looked up, and we baked a chicken pox cake to celebrate – chocolate sponge with chocolate butter cream and all the pink and red Smarties picked out of the packet and dotted across at irregular intervals.
This morning I was lucky enough to be a guest at a brunch to celebrate 150 years of London Underground. Standing in the St Pancras Grand sipping champagne and listening to Boris Johnson’s witticisms certainly made a striking contrast to the rest of the week. However, charming and amusing as he may be (and I say this as someone who still owns a ‘Don’t blame me, I voted for Ken’ badge), could Boris plumb a washing machine or bake a chicken pox cake?