Thursday, 2 January 2014

Washing the Blues Away


 

Frank came in to grab a plateful of food for his lunch.  I gave him three unopened packets of cigarettes and told him to put them back in the shop.
‘Thankyou!’ said Marcia, ‘with the whisky and cigarettes you were spending $25 a day!’

‘No I wasn’t,’ I said, ‘a bottle of whisky is ten dollars, and fifty cigarettes two-fifty so I was spending twelve fifty a day, not twenty five.’  Mind you, that still amounted to 375 bucks a month up in smoke or pissed against a wall.  Women always exaggerate the cost of anything their husbands do.  As a rule of thumb, whatever amount they claim, divide it by two and you are more or less at the real figure.  Conversely, women will always lie like cheap Chinese watches if you ask them how much they spent on a shopping trip and will always precede any amount confessed with the word ‘only’ and end it with the word, ‘Darling’.  This usually wildly optimistically low figure should be at least trebled to avoid a coronary when the debit card bill arrives. I recall once commenting on the price of a pair of shoes she had bought herself after catching sight of the invoice, ‘Christ!’ I said, ‘I have never paid more than a hundred and twenty quid for footwear in my life, and they were bespoke!’
‘Yes!’ she had retorted, ‘But they were made before I was born!’

I suppose a ton and a score for a pair of boots was a lot of money back then.  I could have argued convincingly what good value the investment represented since I had enjoyed so many years out of them compared to Jimmy Choo’s, which look decidedly shabby and second hand after one light outing, but I was too busy considering the inescapable fact that my boots were older than my wife.
Frank took the cigarettes and as he did so, I reminded him that I had given up alcohol and tobacco and for my next trick I said with a sly wink (just as Marcia was nearly out the door) ‘I am going to give up sex’

‘EH!!!’ Marcia exclaimed and Frank creased up.
I only asked for one thing for Christmas and I was disappointed.  Things are tight for us at the moment; they have been for the last couple of years.  The great flood put me back a year and cost me half the building budget and I lost another year and a big chunk of what was left when the contractor went bust so I am not kidding when I say we are watching the pennies.  We survive reasonably on the income from Marcia’s shop and her trading, and on the interest on my savings.  Touching that capital is out of the question, that’s our safety net.  I agree, therefore, that $1,200 for something only I will ever use is a bit extravagant.

But I had seen it.  It was beautiful in its white and chrome livery.  Even though it was fully automatic, with all those buttons and dials I knew the handbook would be the size of an encyclopedia.  I knew the perfect place for it in the house.  In fact I had designed the house with one in mind. I didn’t just want it, I needed it.

Since Marcia was in a very good mood, what with the wedding festivities, me giving up fags and booze, the car fixed again and all that, I thought I would play on her sympathy so tackled her again.
‘All right, Darling, I will pick it up in town tomorrow’

I was delighted.

Before the cottage was finished, we lived for over a year in what was to be the kitchen of the restaurant.  There was no running water.  Any water we needed we fetched from the river until I dug the well at the cottage site two kilometres away.  To relieve us of the stress of hand washing laundry, we bought a cheap Chinese double drum top loading washing machine which we filled with water using buckets.  It was pretty hopeless and destroyed clothes rather than clean them.  When we moved in to the cottage it came with us.  One thing I learned in the army as a soldier was to stay on top of your dhobi.  The more it built up, the less inclined you were to get stuck in and the thought of all that ironing was soul destroying.   This machine was only just better than hand washing but still, the very thought of standing there in the sun for hours on end tending to it put us off doing the laundry until there wasn’t anything left to wear.  Some of the mixed outfits we ended up wearing as we scraped the bottom of the wardrobe were bizarre in the extreme. 
Ed rang me to ask how I was getting on with my electronic cigarette.  He was the one who recommended the eGo based on his experience.  I told him I thought it was brilliant.  Having had his longer he said that the heating element gets weak after a while so he recommended getting in some spares, he was ordering some now.

‘Well order me some too,’ I said, ‘I still haven’t forgiven you for getting your eGo sent out and not thinking of putting one in the parcel for me.’
‘When are you going to come down and see us?’ I asked, he still hasn’t seen the new place.

‘No transport at the moment,’ he said, ‘I am still waiting for Dias to give me my car.’
‘Marcia is in town tomorrow, she can pick you up.  Stop over for the weekend and enjoy a good feed and bring all your dirty washing, Marcia is buying me my Christmas present, you can help her load it into the car!’

‘Eh?’
‘A washing machine! She is buying me a front loading washing machine so bring your kit along!’

‘I have loads, are you sure you don’t mind?’
‘Of course not!’ I assured him, ‘I won’t really know how to use it first time so I would sooner push someone else’s dhobi through it in case I balls it up!  Just make sure Marcia buys the right kind of washing powder.’

‘You mean there is a difference?’ he asked.
Well, I thought, Ed went to a good school and wears handmade shoes in Angola so I don’t suppose he has ever done his own laundry let alone grasped the difference between washing powders destined for use in a basin or those for use in a machine.

Now all I need to screw out of Marcia is a decent steam iron and a sturdy ironing board.

33 comments:

  1. $10.00 whisky? I would have quit too! :-)

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    1. I know, that's expensive for a bottle of whisky, isn't it?

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  2. For me a washing machine was the first real sign of being truly domesticated, it was a dreadful feeling when I realized I owned a washer and a dryer. I mean, a car or a bike you could actually use to run away with, a bit difficult to cart a washer and a dryer while you were on the run.
    375 $ a month on booze and cigs? ... holy shit that would make a nice monthly payment on one of these...
    http://www.ramphos.at/?page_id=47&lang=en
    And you'd actually be able to use it to generate $$ taking a few of your clients out on scenic flights.

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    1. Man, that is cool! How much is it? Does it run on ordinary unleaded? 100LL is hard to come by here.

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    2. As a matter of idle curiousity, I just looked up Tesco's online shopping in UK and priced up my monthly whisky and cigarette consumption and it came to US$2,056. What would monthly repayments like that buy me in the US?

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    3. No idea on cost but I would not be surprised to see 50K$ price tag on it. It is powered by a 2 cyl Rotax 4 stroke at 65 hp and burns regular unleaded. So no need for 100LL. Two grand US would be an easy payment on a nice 350K$ Cessna 206 on floats. If you really want to torture yourself go to Barnstormers dot com for some more ideas.

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    4. To carry fare paying passengers I would need a CPL, that's still 100 hours, isn't it? I wonder how much a course is in the States?

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    5. Yes you'd need a CPL. To apply for that you must have 250 hours total time. And a seaplane rating if that is what you'd be flying. I'll send you some more details in an email.

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  3. I've a great story about how I came by our washing machine along with four others but I think I'd better not write it down for legal reasons! it's still going strong after 7 years even though I have to drain the bloody thing every two months because something gets stuck in it.
    If you've got the space try to mount it high enough to get a bucket under the drain off. I imagine your like me, pocket fulls of crap, nails, screws, fuses etc. And so in the end it will get blocked. Ours is so low to the ground that I have to use a baking tray to drain it. It takes ages. When I get the utility built it's going to be set in a unit high enough to get a bucket under it!

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    1. Would these be the washers and dryers that came out of that laundrette whose owners got behind on their protection payments to the Alviti Family, Don Kev?

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    2. I wish Kev had given this advice several years ago. Baking tray here too!!!

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  4. Heavens to Murgatroyd, you really are a "new man" Hippo! All you need now is your own pinafore - perhaps like the one in the picture you included with this post. Wrinkly stockings and mules wouldn't go amiss either!

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    1. I believe they are de rigeur oop North where you are? Perhaps you could send me a catalogue?

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  5. I just had to buy a new ironing board (for taller gentlemen) and it cost £90 !! That's an even bigger number in dollars. Happy hunting.

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    1. Whisk and fags might be cheap here but everything else, including ironing boards are expensive. Hardest will be finding a decent one.

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  6. $10 for a bottle of whiskey ?!!! In Ausrtralia a bottle of red label Johnny Walker costs $40 and a packet of cigarettes costs around $20 so you would have an even greater incentive to give them up if you lived here !

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    1. Just goes to show how heavily you are taxed.

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  7. The newer generation of machines aren't happy with powder, they prefer liquid. I'm certain you'll figure it out.

    Norman

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    Replies
    1. Blimey! And I thought I was getting anal!

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    2. It's a side effect of being sober xxx

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  8. The new washing machine is almost a metaphor for your past vice-filled life. Although we have a daily maid, I always load the washing machine, (so it's ready to go into the dryer), and then ready for her to sort out and iron by the time her schedule permits. She's not cack-handed, but washing does require a bit of thought - colours, whites etc. I let the amah we had in Hong Kong just get on with it, but she was pretty keen on bleach, and many an item would end up with the colour completely removed...in patches. Now if things get screwed up, it's my fault. Oh, the joys of domesticity! But I think it's good to understand how the household works, and then you can cater the requisite tools to run it efficiently.

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    1. I have given Marcia a long list of things I need!

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  9. I've ALWAYS done my own washing (are you sure about there being a difference in powders? I've even used washing-up liquid).

    Since we re-vamped our kitchen, we now have a dish washer. It's a total bloody mystery. The washing machine, however, is just one button. More my style. I NEVER iron anything.

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    1. All I know is that if you use the washing powder they use here for handwashing in an automatic machine, the suds will explode out of it!

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    2. You have ALWAYS done your OWN washing, Cro? Pull the other one. When where you out of nappies? When did you hit the ground running?

      Anyway. Whatever. I love how you guys here, on the misogy Tom's playground, are so omnipotent as to the vagaries of washing machines. Suds? Dear Hippo in Heaven: May your plumbing not break through the thinness of your cloud cookoo land's sky.

      U

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  10. A front loader here would be much cheaper, but the whiskey and the cigarettes would take a second mortgage...
    Barb

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    1. Now that I have given up alcohol and cigarettes, I can no longer see any advantage to living here other than the very low income tax.

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  11. I can still remember the day (about 30 years ago) when I became the proud owner of a brand new front loader washing machine. I sat on my kitchen floor watching it like a TV, absolutely enthralled. Doesn't take much to please me!

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    1. I expect I will be the same when I get mine!

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  12. Just come in from an evening out with the chaps (only 5-6 pints, sorry) to find England on 23-5, heaven help us. Thank God I've lost my satellite picture.

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    1. You only had a whiff of the barmaids towel and you cannot remember exactly how many pints you drank?

      Yes, the Aussies will get their whitewash! In itself, that isn't so bad. The trouble is, we'll never hear the end of it and the absolute worst will be the excuses and the Talking Heads post mortem.

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  13. After doing some research online, I've ordered my first electronic cigarette kit on VaporFi.

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