By the seventies, my mum had three daughters, of which I was the youngest. The laundry demands of a 70's housewife with three girls and a husband still in need of crisp white shirts was huge. The old twin tub, which was kept in a full length cupboard and pulled out into the tiny kitchen when the washing needed doing, was a small help. I still remember my mum with her apron and headscarf on, sweating profusely at the exertion of filling and emptying the twin tub, scrubbing stains by hand and hanging the clothes outside in the backyard on the line that was suspended between the drain pipe and our nut tree. It took up so much of her time and was labour intensive, as she battled with the noisy, inefficient, juddering second hand machine to get through her mountain of dirty washing.
Fast forward another thirty years and into the world of high tech, convenience and efficient white goods. I wonder how on earth families survived in a pre-washing machine era. We are spoilt by the ease in which jobs such as laundry can be carried out today. We throw in our 8 kg load, add detergent and softener, turn a dial and press a button and as if by magic, technology does the job for us. We might complain at having to unload the machine and sort out the clothes not suitable for tumble drying, but when I think of what women went through back in the olden days, I know that I am so much luckier than them with my easy care fabrics, stain removers and A rated appliances.
It's easy to take our appliances for granted, that is until something goes wrong and we find ourselves bereft of the convenience and efficiency of modern day living. I know this through experience - bitter experience!
Back in the days when my dirty washing basket contents were generated by one messy toddler, a fashion conscious teenager, a sporty footballer and a schoolgirl, the unthinkable happened. The washing machine broke down. First thing to alert us to this disaster was the noise. The machine had been getting more and more noisy over the weeks beforehand but I simply tried to ignore it and pretend that this was just a normal part of the cycle, rather than the battle cries of a harbinger of impending doom. This day though, the noise was something else! Not even turning the radio up to drown out the noise could allow me the delusion of everything being OK. It sounded like an aeroplane was trying to take off in our utility room. The house felt like it was shaking in time to the out of control, violently vibrating, movements of the washing machine. Pulling out the wet washing, I found the clothes were smeared with greasy dirt and were peppered with little holes caused by them being pinched between the seals and the wobbling drum. The dirty water hadn't drained properly and spilled out as I tried to salvage my misshapen laundry from my monstrous machine's gaping maw. The washing machine which had been one of my best friends in the world was now a vicious clothes destroying, stinking water spitting enemy. It had turned on me. Whereas I usually sniffed my freshly laundered, floral scented, warm washing as I pulled it from the drum, smiling sweetly at my domestic goddess prowess, I found myself sat in a puddle of dirty water with a pile of soppy wet, holey garments on my lap and crying!
Apparently the bearings had gone. A common problem with overworked, old and tired washing machines. Thankfully we got a brand, new shiny washing machine to replace the old one which arrived a few days later. The relief of not having to 'wash by hand' was palpable.
When we first used our new washing machine, it was so quiet that we had to check if it was actually working! We had grown accustomed to our progressively noisier and noisier machine that we had forgotten what a real washing machine should sound like!
Nowadays my BEKO washing machine quietly and efficiently gets on with the job at hand, leaving me free to sit here on my laptop feeling virtuous as I am by all accounts 'doing the laundry' - multi-tasking at its very best!
I feel such admiration for the women that have come before me who have managed to keep on top of their housework, cooking, cleaning, laundering and sweeping, without the benefit of the modern appliances that we take so for granted these days. We really shouldn't ever complain about doing our daily chores.
Thankfully Ian is far more on the ball now when things look like they might go wrong. We've learned from our mistakes! He's there changing bulbs in fridges, fitting drive bands in our vacuum cleaner and replacing seals in our oven door, keeping our appliances working well and extending their useful lives. Great for the environment and for our pocket! So hopefully he'll keep our washing machine in good working order for as long as possible, allowing me to take full credit for keeping on top of our mountain of laundry and keeping the family looking smart and well turned out, with minimal effort on my part!
This blog post is my entry into the Tots100/PartSelect ’Love Your Appliance’ competition.