I’m not really sure whether this was a
good buy or a bad one – I’ll let you decide. You may wish to make sure
you're sitting comfortably...
In around 1978 my dad came home with a washing machine!!! No more trips to the launderette for us, oh no, a brand new Hotpoint washing machine, brand new in its box was ours to use.
With a flourish of his plumbing spanner my father plumbed in the machine, it was filled with dirty clothes and the requisite amount of Omo was poured into the little drawer at the top. A suitable wash was selected and the ‘on’ button was pressed.
We all stood watching, me, mum, dad and my little brother.
We made sounds of wonder as it filled with water. There was an audible gasp as the drum leaped into life, moving back and forth and agitating the soap and water into a foam. My mother clasped her hands to her chest in glee as the machine started to wash in earnest.
There’s only so long that an entire family can stand watching a washing machine, and before long my dad pulled us all away to the television to watch the latest episode of ‘Get Some In’ which, he maintained, was exactly what the RAF had been like when he was in it.
As we watched the antics of Tony Selby and his crew of erks we could hear the faint sounds of our new miracle machine from the kitchen.
As the end titles began to run the sound from the kitchen changed and something new was heard – a low whirring sound that became higher in pitch. The machine was going into its spin cycle!
We all ran back into the kitchen in time to see the drum achieve its maximum velocity…at which point the entire washing machine began to leap up and down, pogoing in the manner of those punk rockers that we’d seen on television.
With each leap the machine moved a few inches across the kitchen making a noise that went BA-DUM…BA-DUM…BA-DUM…BA-DUM…
With the speed of a striking cobra my dad hit the ‘off’ switch and once the drum revolutions had fallen below their maximum the pogo machine stopped its pogoing.
“It’s faulty!” cried mother, “father, you’ll have to take it back to the shop and get it replaced!”
My dad’s eyes were looking all around the room, but rather notably they were avoiding meeting my mother’s.
“I can’t really do that” he informed her after a long and detailed examination of every other part of the kitchen, “you see, it fell off the back of a lorry.”
My mother held a hand over her eyes for a moment and then, removing it, she shook her head sadly and returned to her armchair in the front room to seek that solace which can only be found in a Park Drive and a swig of Armadillo sherry.
Still relatively inexperienced in the ways of the ‘grey economy’ I helpfully suggested that the fall from the back of the lorry might have damaged the machine in some way and in so doing I earned myself an affectionate slap across the head.
“Leave me, Number One Son” said father (for that was how he sometimes referred to me), “and let me see if I can puzzle out a solution to this quandary.”
To cut a long story short, the plan was cunning in its simplicity. From that day forth, at the sound of the whirring signalling an approach to the spin cycle, a nominated family member would run into the kitchen and leap atop the bucking beast and sit there for the duration of the spin.
The BA-DUM…BA-DUM…BA-DUM continued, but by using careful changes to your weight distribution is was possible to stop the machine from ambulating across the room.
I will even admit that as I became older there was even a certain pleasurable aspect involved, however I missed out on much of this because mother, rather selflessly, insisted on doing a lot of the washing when she was the only one in the house.
Years passed, ten of them in total, and still the machine soldiered on. Still, every time it went into a spin the BA-DUM…BA-DUM…BA-DUM of the pogoing Hotpoint was heard throughout the house until one fateful day!
On the day in question my dad was sitting on the machine as it spun – a rare occurrence as he normally avoided this duty by claiming that it caused the ash to fall off his cigarette prematurely and spoiled his enjoyment of the tobacco.
This time the machine went BA-DUM…BA-DUM…CLANG…GRIND…GRIND.
With the speed of a striking sloth (for time had dulled his previously ninja-like reflexes) he hit the ‘off’ switch.
The family trooped into the kitchen and stood around looking at the forlorn machine like mourners at a graveside.
“Ah well”, said mother, fondly stroking the top of the machine where, in total, she must have spent many long hours sitting “we’ve had our moneys-worth out of it”.
“Not necessarily!” exclaimed my father, “I’m going to try to fix it!”
Shaking her head my mother retired to her armchair and Armadillo.
Father set about the machine with a will (actually with a screwdriver and a spanner, but you know what I mean) and before long a panel had been removed from the rear of the machine exposing an obviously broken part.
A bar, running the width of the machine’s interior and bolted into place at each end had sheared in two in the middle and the loose ends of the bar were clanging and grinding against the drum.
Un-bolting the two parts of the bar from the interior of the machine father held the both aloft.
“Comet!” he said…”Comet in Failsworth is a main dealer for Hotpoint machines and carries a full range of spare parts. I’ll have a replacement metal bar from those lads or I’ll know the reason why!”
Running into the front room to grab his car keys he shouted “Come on Number One Son – to the Zephyr! You’re coming along to witness my victory over that machine!”
We parked outside Comet, which was upstairs above the Failsworth Morrison’s Supermarket and I was bade to remain in the vehicle as my father procured the replacement part.
I watched as he walked in through the front door, carrying the severed sections of the metal bar and I watched as he mounted the escalator and vanished from sight.
My father emerged from the doors, bent almost double and dangerously red about the facial area. I rushed to his aid, fearing that he’d been laid-low by being quoted an exorbitantly-high replacement part cost.
As I drew closer I realised that what I’d taken as severe consternation was actually hysterical laughter. I slung his arm about my shoulder and helped him to the car, asking what had caused such hilarity. He was unable to answer and it was several hours later, after many false starts and lapses back into hysteria that I managed to piece the following together:
“Good afternoon sir” says the clerk behind the counter.
“Good afternoon. I wonder whether you can help me, I’m looking for one of these!” says my father, placing the broken metal bar on the counter.
“Why do you want one of these?” asks the clerk, “are you moving house?”
“Moving house?” questions my father “have you been sniffing marker pens? Bring me one of these bars at the double!”
“But sir” explains the clerk “that’s a transit bracket – it’s fitted inside the machine to stop the drum getting damaged in transit. I can’t understand what you’re doing with one because they’re normally removed once the machine’s delivered to a shop. If you leave that on the machine and try to use it, then every time it spins the whole machine goes BA-DUM…BA-DUM…BA-DUM and bounces all over the room!”
The machine was reassembled and continued running, outliving both of my parents. In 2002 I donated it to a young couple who’d just got their first flat and, as far as I know, it’s still running to this day.
Good buy or bad buy…you tell me.
Go to Short Stories
Go to Index
Go to Home Page
Words (in this case) copyright (c) 2016 Jeff Johnson, email@example.com