My washing machine who shall remain nameless has been on the blink ever since its guarantee ran out two years ago. Basil Fawlty like I threatened it until it managed the washing more or less but it kept flashing up various 'codes' at me and in the end I was taking sopping wet knickers and vests, squeezing them dry and hanging them up outside in the maiden.
I searched in vain for a guy to mend the damned thing and the company wanted £159 to send out an engineer.
'Buy a new one,' my daughter said, 'it's easy.'
So I did. How simple, I thought, you choose the model ( not as easy as I had imagined ), you ring up ( since I had tried to buy it online and my bank refused to let me have the money. I had the fraud squad on the phone ) so spent ages on the phone buying it, assuring the guy I had measured the space. They would install it, take away the old one, bingo.
But it would take a fortnight to arrive. In the meanwhile I had taken to wearing old ball gowns because they were all I had left with tiny knickers I had long since grown out of and attempting to match socks which were so far down the sock drawer that they had not been worn since Victoria was on the throne.
I spent a fortnight sweating in case I had chosen the wrong machine, that it wouldn't go in, that it would spend the next six months sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor with the old one still inside its cream cupboard. Finally the great day arrived. I got a four hour slot and sweated even more and then the machine came and with it the kind of engineer who shakes his head.
He looked at the space, he shook his head.
'Is it too big to go in?' I ventured. This would be another of the hundred and one practical things I couldn't do, FAILING TO BUY WASHER.
He got down, he looked at the cupboard door.
'It's been put in really badly,' he said.
He got right down on the floor.
'Where does the pipe go?'
'Where the water comes in and out.'
'Under the sink.'
I duly emptied the cupboard under the sink.
He shook his head.
'No, that's the tap that turns the water off.'
I carried all the stuff ( where was it all coming from, I hadn't seen most of these cleaning products since mangling was in fashion ) into the little back room where I write.
'It won't come out.' This is the old model. I stand looking at him while he tugs and pulls.
I offer him tea thinking it might help. He shakes his head. His mate, his driver, says he will have tea. I woo him with KitKats and wonder afterwards why he left his tea when I had to step back and forth over the engineer to get the tea, the sugar, the milk, the chocolate biscuits, the kettle and a cup.
I had given him Roosbos by mistake. I wouldn't care, I didn't realise I had any left. Damn. Last teabag and my daughter doesn't drink any other.
They tug and pull at my nasty defunct washer and I worry for my lovely grey floor. They land it on the floor in front of the hole. He gets back down on the floor.
'I can't see the pipe anywhere. Can't fit the new one if the pipe isn't long enough.' He sighs over kitchen installers while I malign the lovely kitchen men who fitted my glorious Mary Berry happy kitchen, complete with bottle washer and fish slice.
I retreat into the little back room, with a pen and a notebook, hoping I look efficient and unconcerned. I pick up a fascinating volume called Mines of the Lake District which I have been going to read for almost three weeks, it's due back at the library any minute. Yep, there's a book which will set the visitors on fire.
'I'll have to take the dishwasher out.'
By this time I am almost past caring and tell him tersely that I don't mind as long as it puts it back in again before he leaves and I retreat to the little back room and learn that quartz, silver, copper and lead, have all been mined in my beloved Lake District, some of them since Elizabethan times, that's the last one so that's sixteenth century. Hm.
Various noises from next door. I try not to think they are demolishing the kitchen. A whole set of tools crashes to the floor. I spend the next twenty minutes dreading the words 'you've chosen the wrong machine. It won't go in.'
I am asked for kitchen roll, I have to get the hoover. I wish I was somewhere else.
Half on hour later there it is installed and he proudly tells me that the door is a much better fit that it was and I agree.
They leave. All is peaceful and then I open the cupboard door and before me stands a gleaming monster which has so many instructions on it that Dr Who would run away so I make some tea and sit and watch and I think tomorrow I will read the instructions. Tomorrow is, as Scarlett said, memorably, 'Another Day.' And no workmen.