When I woke up this morning, I wasn’t planning to clean behind the washing machine. I mean, my elder daughter plus hubby are arriving here for a week from tomorrow, but my paternal devotion doesn’t stretch to quite this level of hygiene obsession. However, it’s been an odd sort of day, and as it is now drawing to a close, I thought I’d share it with you.
Truth be told, my main thought on awakening from a dream about forcing a candle up Ed Miliband’s nose was the need to go out and buy a hammock, the previous one (the hammock, not the nose) having died a death and been torn from its tree anchors last year during 70 mph gales. (No 1 Daughter and highly respectful son-in-law very keen on hammocks). I also envisaged a bit of shoe-buying, as there is no country like France for effecting the good value purchase of stylish informal shoes.
The first obstacle in the way of this unreal expectation was the task of preparing the spare bedroom. I’ve never been good at putting duvets into their covers, but I’m usually OK at opening cupboards where the duvet covers are. Today however I was clearly performing below par, as the door literally came off in my hand. The resultant wrestling match with the duvet seemed a small matter by comparison, and so all that remained was to cope with washing that needed doing before my wife’s enforced departure tomorrow.
I put the wash into the machine, and then opened the dishwasher to empty it. But the soap container had jammed shut, and so what I found inside there was a motley collection of perfectly clean but disgustingly greasy crocks and cutlery. I poured soap liberally in all directions inside the machine and started it again. Then I went out to do the necessary shopping.
This part of the day started wonderfully. I found two perfect hammocks almost immediately, and then breezed around the LeClerc hypermarket picking up everything I needed. Sadly, at the end of the shop, I found the sort of crowd that probably greeted Louis XVI as he stepped from the tumbril in order to have his head surgically removed from the rest of him by Madame la Guillotine.
By the time I exited the store, it was midday and hot enough to boil an egg on your head, should you be fed up of having it all over your face. I drove home, put all the produce in various fridge and freezer compartments, and went straight to the washing machine to empty it and get that urgent washing on the line.
I tugged at the door, and it wouldn’t open. A little frazzled by now, I yanked at it, pretty much at the same moment I remembered that the door was programmed not to open if something was wrong.
The seriously wrong thing was that the washing machine was full of water. It poured across the kitchen in every direction in that profoundly iritating way that liquid has. I would’ve dealt with this emergency immediately had it not been for the fact that for around five minutes beforehand, I’d been getting that wobbly feeling in the backside that often accompanies me on visits abroad. A dash to the downstairs lavatory was rapidly becoming the only option, so I waded through the floodwaters and effected the necessary relief. But the flush wouldn’t work, so I took the top off the cistern (this is the third cistern mechanism we’ve replaced in the last two years) and pulled the fully-automatic device upwards manually. It flushed (= good) but then snapped (= bad) and continued to flush. It would still be flushing now had I not ripped out the entire daft innards of the cistern in a frenzy of self-pity. Soon afterwards, I began using the sponge-brush to push water out of the kitchen and over the back door step into the garden.
Wringing out the soaked washing, I hung it on the line and walked over to the swimming pool. I probably did this because I couldn’t face the sloshing kitchen and the unflushing loo. Having started the filtration and surface-cleaning Polaris before I left for the shops, I was over-optimistically expecting the pool to look crystal clear and generally like something out of a David Hockney painting on my return. But the Polaris was floating about in the manner of a not properly working Polaris, and all the muck at the bottom of the pool was still there.
Now I am more than well aware that anyone wanting to start a global charity based on funds for blokes whose pool cleaner isn’t working is doomed to fail. Sympathy stretches only so far, and it doesn’t stretch to that. So I dived into water and performed an odd dance that involved stepping on the cleaning machine in an attempt to make it focus. I am that man here to tell you I rode a waterborne bronco in vain.
So to summarise then, the cupboard door hangeth off, the washing machine refuses to empty, the dishwasher refuses to soap, the downstairs loo is without a flushing facility, and the pool’s cleaning lady is suffering from dust non-removal disorder. But having pulled out the washing machine the better to examine, curse, and then kick it, I did notice the appalling Fourth World filth that lay behind it.
It has often struck me that the hierarchy of worlds on our planet runs only to three. That makes little or no sense, as anyone who has ever flown with the Portuguese airline TAP will understand. A flight on TAP is far worse than anything the Third World could ever throw at a person, and each and every member of the cabin staff is surely vying to create a Fifth World at the earliest opportunity.
Anyway, I didn’t wake up today with the ambition of cleaning behind the washing machine, but I have done so. As the Buddhists say, every day do something you don’t want to do. This has been an exemplary Buddhist day.