The Tale of Two Washing Machines

The story begins with the Hotpoint Aquarius range coming off the production lines in April 2000, that’s the date on the instruction book anyway. Checking the household accounts, our linen-coloured WMA32 model was purchased from the GUS (Great Universal Stores) catalogue in August that year for the cost of £484.89. Hettie Hotpoint-Jackson gave faithful service over the years and continued to do so until her departure yesterday. But signs of late on-set teenage tantrums had been discerned since last September, and my nerves became rather frayed at dealing with them. A younger child would have to be adopted to take up the family laundry business.

I knew Hettie’s moods and voice intimately and I noticed a different timbre in her voice last September. She also developed a sudden interest in the art of dancing, initially taking form with a gentle shuffle with some rattling accompaniment. At the end of her performances I was aware her footprint had moved about an inch to the left. I would monitor this new development carefully. Gradually over the months her dancing craze became more animated and laundry days turned into “hug a machine” mode, as frenetic river-dancing took hold. This was partnered by full on percussion of drums and timpani joining in. The orchestration sounded particularly violent at times, followed by a quieter mellower mode when the shuffle dance returned. Every time I switched the machine on my heart was in my mouth wondering if the load would finish, or if the clothes would be stranded in a locked machine drum full of water. As Hettie’s tantrums grew worse I nursed her along with ever smaller loads, using slower spins to ease her pains. Having private insurance I could have had her examined, but last time the doctor was so bolshie, I was put off. And with her age, the prospect of buying a newer model was becoming a better idea, despite the hassle it would cause. So in the meantime I got what needed to be washed done, leaving the winter woollies and the heavy duty sheets and towels, until I had no choice but to tackle them. The pile of winter jumpers turned out easy enough to do; the sheets produced bigger strops and then the towels. OMG!!! Hettie’s Riverdance obsession hit new heights as she spectacularly leapt several inches off the floor, crashing back to earth and four inches from her start position. A full percussion section framed this spectacle. I felt sick and relief flooded me as the wash cycle finally ended. Somehow she had not done irreparable damage to herself and I managed to nurse her for several weeks after this event. But my psyche toward Hettie was damaged, and research really began with a temporary Which Guide subscription arranged in February (although I had mentioned wanting this in November). I narrowed it down eventually to an all singing-dancing (pardon the pun) Bosch, or a reliable nicely programmed Bush model.

So this was the backdrop to us taking delivery of our new Bosch machine. His first delivery attempt with disconnect old/connect the new model failed, because Hettie’s connector valves were malfunctioning and the water could not be switched off in any way. The guy wasn’t impressed either when he saw our pipe work and the draining tube going into the sink. So the machine returned to the depot. We would have to get Keele plumbers into fix the connector valves at the very least and preferably connect the new machine too. The inner pipe work eccentricities of our flats mean that only Keele plumbers can fully understand them anyway. Negotiations took place between Rob, Keele and AO.com and a new delivery date was set. It transpired that any outside person would be required to have completed a Keele certified safety course, before undertaking ANY kind of work in the flat! That was news to us, and a complete contrast to the remote off-hand attitude of Staffs Housing Association, who we had to go through before. They just left us to our own devices. Keele are all over us like a rash by comparison, which is good in a way, because our museum piece boiler is always maintained to perfection, we’ve had CO, heat and smoke detectors installed and are checked annually, and new wiring a few years back. So it’s rather nice that Estates care enough now to be hands on, and it gave us someone to approach with our dilemma.

Having been flooded at least twice through other peoples’ machines not being connected properly, I can see why Keele are so jumpy now. And as I’ve said, the foibles of  the flats infrastructure means that only Keele guys would know how to carry out work, and not flood the place in the process. So the Bosch was delivered Tuesday night and Gareth turned up first thing on Wednesday morning, to fix the connectors and hook the newbie up. My heart sank when even Gareth showed an element of surprise/dismay at the state of our pipes. The upshot was he would have to fix the connectors, seal the hot water one because washing machines tend to be cold fill only now, and it would need to be plumbed in properly. Pipes draining into sinks are a health and safety hazard with contaminated water, which I knew, but we were operating on a lack of support for over twenty years. So the under sink cupboards had to be emptied and then Gareth cheerfully set about his task.

He was absolutely brilliant, knowledgeable, quick and efficient. As we chatted he talked of the very hard water wrecking havoc on washers and connectors, and how Keele’s miles of pipe work are a law to themselves. We discussed the merits of machine models (Miele, Samsung, Bosch, Hotpoint) as he will have to replace his own washer soon. On discovering that he had been told Bosch didn’t engineer their machines in Germany anymore but in Britain I quipped, “Well as long as young Beau here doesn’t go all Brexit on me I’ll be happy”. That raised a big smile. When the job was done, our all white Bosch baby was fully plumbed into new under sink pipe work (a bonus) and I patted Hettie goodbye as she was towed away.

I haven’t tried the new machine yet, that awaits my return from a trip to Scotland at the weekend. There is a lovely large basket full of sheets and towels to be done, and I’m sure Beau Rex (he is kingly looking, and it’s from T-Rex as he’s a 21st century boy) Bosch-Jackson will do a splendid job. Welcome to your new home my son.

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