We've been putting off the hivernage of the geriatric Citroen BX, cancelling appointments at the garage, because we've had other things to do and pay for and it seems to be starting in the morning and going on its way uncomplaining. Similarly, the washing machine which seemed to have been having intermittent problems draining was manageable if turned to the drain only and then spin programmes separately afterwards, so I procrastinated about that too.
However, then one sad day it happened, the washing drained no more. The machine died mid programme and would not be cajoled. I baled it out by hand and called the repair people, the second time this year I was thankful to have been inveigled into buying an extended warranty.
A week to wait, I discovered the joys of the prefab shack outside Leclerc in Lamballe which seems to be the only launderette in Department 22; I had to trail the concourse of the supermarket like a mendicant trying to extort enough coins from the unwilling shop workers for the machines, and loitered about the intallation while large lorries with suction equipment seemed to be clearing blocked drains outside, but inside had the interest of providing me with an impromptu sauna experience. Took me back to studenthood, only I didn't have a copy of Sophocles or Gawain and the Green Knight to read somewhat pretentiously while supervising the rotating drums as I did then.
Anyway, the repair person was due this afternoon, so I hurriedly left work and stopped off at the garden centre on the retail park which is one of the few places to stock the special croquettes which piggy pooch is recommended to eat by sundry veterinarians, and the newsagent that kindly imports a Radio Times for us so that we can shake our heads despondently over it and say 'Crap on the telly as usual'. I returned to the car and turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. Not a cough or splutter, rien du tout. I had just enough credit on the mobile (I haven't got round to sorting that out either) to bewail my sad fate to my husband and try to supply him with the phrases necessary to explain a non-draining washing machine to a repair person. He said go to the car place by the supermarket, which I suppose I would have come round to the idea of eventually on my own but only after a requisite time spent in existential paralysis.
The first place a fellow with a lacklustre manner and bad skin gave me a shrug and accompanying expulsion of air from between pursed lips, said he could do little for me, but referred me to another place. There, a very young and bright-eyed chap was courtesy and compassion personified, picked up battery and leads toot sweet and instructed me to jump in his car and off we went back to the car park. I had to ride in the back because he had a baby seat in the front, though he really didn't look old enough...
The battery solution was unsuccessful, so he asked if I had anything large and heavy on board with which to bash. I found a jack handle and he duly bashed. Yes, he said, as the car started, it is the charbons du demarreur which are worn out. I memorised this in total ignorance of its meaning. The arcane illogic of the naming of car parts in my mother tongue is doubly confounding in a second language. Even when a translation is supplied I am none the wiser, there seldom seems any relationship between the words in one language and another, or in either language with my rudimentary grasp of their functions. Tom said when I got home 'Oh yes, the carbon brushes .' Fine.
'What do I owe you?' I asked.
'Nothing at all,' he said with a grin. I asked his name, so I'll drop by with something later. If he's got a baby someone will probably be happy to share some chocolates.
So, I arrived home just in time for the washing machine man. He was very jolly, particularly tickled by a dog with a bucket on its head. He fiddled with the drainage pipe, then turned the offending item of household white goods on its back and located the culprit. Feel this, he invited, guiding my hand to a lump in a piece of rubber tubing. (Why do I always ingenuously do as I'm told in those kind of situations...?)
We seem to live our lives under a steadily advancing tide of fine black dog hair. It forms dust bunnies the size of tumbleweeds in every corner every day, three times the volume in hair of the dog in question is collected in the bag of the vacuum cleaner every couple of weeks, and it coats all the textiles in the house in a clinging film of grubbiness. Fortunately I am not a houseproud person. Fearing however that the tubes and filters of the washing machine must be also under siege from the creeping menace, and being a bit of a sucker for the kind of catalogues that market inexpensive tricks and trucs, I purchased a number of these (above) fuzz-catching baubles from Vitrine Magique, a kind of downmarket French cross between Lakeland and Innovations, and have been throwing them abundantly into the drum of the washing machine, as is their destiny. I don't keep track of them as I just seem to have A Lot and they are frequently escaping, rolling underneath things, turning up in pockets or the corners of duvet covers and so forth. So I didn't notice there was one missing, which had surreptitiously squeezed between the drum and the outer casing and was making its way towards a new life wherever the washing machine water goes ( a place yet to be discovered and a point of contention with the septic tank monitoring team who featured in an earlier post ). It never made it, but stayed in a limbo in the aforesaid rubber pipe, in a very sorry state indeed.
Tom raised his eyebrows. 'How much will that cost then?'
'Is it covered by the guarantee?' I asked hopefully of the jolly young man.
'Not really,' he replied ' it's your fault. But just this once.'
So we have got away without paying twice today. And it wasn't the thing I feared, the dog hair, which caused the problem, but the measures I took to prevent it and fight against it.
There's a moral in there, I'm sure.