“Thank you anyway,” I insist.

There is a kerfuffle, whilst we manipulate white goods.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t fix it in the end,” he says, as we lift the bottom of his own washing machine into his cluttered van.

“I’m very grateful for all your efforts,” I reply, very genuinely. Lending me his own washing machine was not only helpful and touching – it was beyond the call of duty by anyone’s definition.

The Washing Machine Man has admitted defeat. He cannot get the part he needs, as Hotpoint will not give it to him. He advises that I will have to ring Hotpoint and get their own people to mend it. [Note – since then I have done this, and Evil Corporation Hotpoint came and fixed my washing machine, their van overspilling with surplus appropriate washing machine parts.]

We talk about this for a while as we lean on the tailgate. Life is getting tougher for the old independent Washing Machine Men, once so much part and parcel of the fabric of British life. Their pliers and pencils stored behind the ear are being replaced with computer diagnostics and probes; the slightly scary wives with message pads next to their telephones superceded by call centres and internet booking; the battered vans carrying a working life’s worth of collected tools and rescued bits and pieces disappearing from the roads in favour of brightly branded and fleet insured new models.

I may write to TV’s Jimmy Perry and David Croft and suggest they write an ensemble sitcom about the heyday of Britain’s Washing Machine Repair industry, perhaps ending with a slightly bitter-sweet final episode set in my scullery in which the team go their separate ways after a moving soliloquy about flow valves. It would surely be a hit.

“I’m really sorry I broke your machine as well,” I repeat, for about the twenty-seventh time in ten minutes.

“Don’t worry about it,” he concedes, climbing ruefully into the cab.

“I’m sure it’s probably just a filter,” I offer helpfully. “Or a hose or something.”

The van pulls out from the drive, turns left past Short Tony’s and out of the Village. I turn and walk silently back towards the front door.

19 Comments

  1. This is REALLY sad. Just what I need to set the scene for the festive season, the saddest post in the world. Perhaps you could set up a fund for the independent washing machine man – he did so much for so little reward. And I can’t believe you broke his machine. Those pants must have been dreadfully dirty. Or full of spanners.

  2. It’s not wise to store pliers behind the ear, let alone computers, though probes can be quite useful.

  3. Cheer up, Jonny. At least you’ll have clean crisp scuds for Christmas. And is that not, in a very real sense, what Christmas is all about?

    You have to learn to savour the simple things in life, you see. The LTLP could give you a few tips there, if you get my drift…

  4. I strongly suspect that Independent Washing Machine Repairman is actually a super hero. It’s a brilliant alter-ego really as he can do the quick change thing in the back of the van and not be dependent upon relics of obsolete technology. Note – I’ve wondered recently what would happen were Superman to choose the wrong booth/box thingy and find himself in a Tardis. Would that be a bit of an awkward moment? There’s the man of steel halfway into wrestling those blue tights on and there’s an embarrassed cough behind him… Anyway, he might be in a bit of a spot now that you’ve broken his machine. Should you catch a glimpse of a caped wonder flashing by with what looks like a gravy stain down the front you’ll know the truth. I trust you’ll make every effort to protect his secret. It’s the least you can do.

  5. At least you’ll have a white Christmas. (Remember the bleach).

  6. They are are disappearing in the USA too. Our “The Tinker” man who used to come and fix refrigerators and washing machines has retired, and no independent person has taken his place.

  7. Jonny – How could you?
    Now the independent washing machine repair man will have to bring his dirty pants for you to wash until he gets it fixed.
    Lets hope his machine isn’t a Hotpoint model.

  8. You broke his machine? A kindly way to throw the poor chap some business if ever I heard of one.

  9. We used to have a Hotpoint stove. Piece of rubbish. Took ages to heat anything – if you wanted the kettle to boil by breakfast, you had to put it on the night before and cross your fingers.

    On the bright side, I guess this means there’s no danger of your clothes catching fire.

    (Although considering your track record, Jonny, nothing would surprise me.)

  10. And a Happy New Year to you too.

  11. Let’s hear it for the OIWM man. They truly are a god-send. My Zanussi got temperamental a few years ago, after quite a few years of excellent service. I decided to replace it but had a visit from OIWM man who lives in Williton and he persuaded me not to, fixed it and voila – still going strong. He also does vacs but NOT Fridges of Freezers.
    I blame the Americans, bless ’em for the disposable society that has leaked over here.
    Make do and mend say I!
    Have a happy holiday and a disaster free 2009 – except the ones that are really funny.

  12. Pat that comment makes it sound that our society is a nappy that badly needs changing.

    Which… when I think about it… is…

  13. With seven extra people due to arrive, I have picked up the turkey, received the ham from Len the Fish, and am now off to purchase an emergency toilet seat to replace the one that has broken.

    Happy Christmas everybody.

  14. Happy Christmas to you too Jonny, and also to all readers of this very amusing blog.

  15. Merry Christmas, all, and I do hope your oven doesn’t break down now Jonny…

  16. It’s the same with independent dishwasher men. *sigh*

    What’s the difference between an emergency toilet seat and an ordinary one? Is it anything to do with having a Toddler?

    Happy festive wossnames to you too, JonnyB.

  17. An emergency toilet seat must be like one of those run-flat tyres – don’t exceed fifty miles an hour and get yourself to a garage as soon as possible…at least there are no professionals needed in the fitment of this particular spare part.

  18. I find that wearing one’s clothes whilst bathing obviates reliance on fallible char-machinery. However, Armani-wearers should beware unless, of course, they actually fill the space under those shoulder-pads.

  19. It will change the premise of a generation of porn films.

    See, these things have far reaching effects.

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