The monster in the kitchen


Ani, exploring the kitchen in search of possibilities, let out a yelp and dived for cover, cowering under my chair.

“Is it supposed to do that?” asked my son, who had just arrived on his bike. “It’s not right… can’t be healthy….”

There are some things that haunt you; a looming, inescapable chasm of gloom before which you can do nothing. Except, perhaps, hope that the unpleasant outcome will delay itself just a little longer. I face one such certainty with a calm acceptance of its inevitability and in the knowledge that there is little point in worrying when there is no longer anything I can do to halt the downward spiral. All I can do is wait…

My washing machine is about to die.

I cannot complain… it has served valiantly over the years. It came to me some ten years ago, already second-hand. In its day it has washed everything from upholstery to boots, from duvets to dog beds; it has coped with the demands of two sons, two stepsons, a variety of their girlfriends and one of their babies… and more household linens than I care to consider. Occasionally, I even managed to squeeze in some of my own stuff. It amused my Ani when she was a pup. She would sit and watch the bubbles go round. Now, it is tired. I know the feeling.

IMGP1341It is too old to repair. The last time it tried to retire from active service, strange and arcane things were done to its innards… things that would make an electrician cringe and hold up crossed screwdrivers against the dark arts. It bought a little time, resurrecting it from the dead… a sort of zombie washing machine.

The drying facility died shortly thereafter. The constant presence of woolly socks drying on radiators in winter was not exactly my idea of interior decoration, but it had been misbehaving for some time, shrinking T-shirts in the heat. The dryer was no real loss. Especially after the day my partner (my now ex-partner, I hasten to add) saw fit to put the delicate chenille bedspread through a boil wash and dry. I came home from work to fabric so threadbare a spider would have rejected it as too minimalist… and a machine so totally clogged with fluff it had to be completely dismembered. But it survived, rebuilt along Frankensteinian principles.

I have never owned a brand new washing machine. My very first was an old one with the electric mangle that my mother found for me. It was a major step up… until then I had boiled tubs of water to wash by hand in the big sink, grateful for the education my great grandmother had given me with Sunlight soap, dolly tub and posser. The washing was okay, but the hand wringing was hard work. The ‘new’ electric mangle was a great machine that heated its own water…the only thing in the house that did… then squeezed it back out of the clothes through the rollers. If you were careful, you could fold stuff before squeezing and it wouldn’t need ironing…Of course, the rubber of the rollers was past its best and left perished green traces on the clothes…but it was better than washing laundry by hand!

Eventually I went upmarket and acquired my mother’s old twin tub… a horrendous invention that required the fishing out of laundry from hot water to transfer it to the spinner… which then proceeded to deform everything beyond recognition if you weren’t careful. It made it more awkward when it kept falling off the bricks. Not a standard feature, of course; they were to lift it high enough for the basin that caught the leak…

The next one was a proper machine… I bought a good, second hand front loader that actually worked. And didn’t leak. Until it did. It was an easy fix though. Too old when I had bought it to have parts available, my broom handle grew progressively shorter as bits were sawn off to do the magical and mysterious things that kept it going for years. I grew quite adept at hauling it out and tipping the thing on its side onto two tins of beans to get access…

Then this one came into my life. It did things… had programmes… even dried clothes…Until it started its stealth mission, retiring itself bit by bit as functions have given up the ghost one after the other.

IMGP1145These days it will wash only on one programme. That’s okay… I don’t need anything else. The drier? Well, there is fresh air… which doesn’t consume electricity with vampiric greed. But the spinner seems to want to go into orbit. Or explode. Or imitate a pneumatic drill. Mostly all at once. And it grates and clatters… to the point where Ani no longer watches the suds but hides under my chair every time I have to use it. And as my wrists can no longer take wringing… and mangles are rare, it looks as if, after forty years of laundry, I may finally find myself the owner of a brand new machine…

I wonder if I can convince it to wait until there is no ‘r’* in the month?

*renewal reminders

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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52 Responses to The monster in the kitchen

  1. reocochran says:

    I was blessed with curious and mischievous dogs on my life. One’s I loved deeply. Your Ani photo as a puppy melted my heart. ♡


  2. TanGental says:

    My parents had a machine ‘Homer’ as we knew it because it spun itself so hard it walked across the kitchen, only constrained by the pipes, water and waste. After one too many strolls the waste pipe came away and it was never secure again. My mother wasn’t coming to buy a new one which meant anyone using it had to be prepared to fight it during its spin cycle. We’re we pleased when that one went. Great story Sue. Hope you form the same bond with your new one.


  3. Looks like Ani might do it for you if you give her a chance 🙂


  4. I have childhood recollections of a machine that made a sound like an aircraft taking off! I always try to purchase major electrical items from John Lewis as they offer an automatic (free) 2 year guarantee with all products, while every other retailer I have come across expects the customer to pay through the nose to extend protection beyond 12 months duration. Kevin


  5. Jack Eason says:

    Remember Twin-tubs Sue? If you really want old, how about the ‘Copper’? 😉


  6. jenanita01 says:

    In my time, I must have had every single one of the machines you mention, and just like you, the current one, which has all the bells, whistles and flashing lights, not to mention a set of warning codes which make no sense at all, is on its last legs.
    Nothing lasts forever, does it? Just the poor unfortunates (you and me) who have to use the damned things!


  7. I lived through this post nodding at every change – from hand wringing to rollers to twin tub. Until it came to the possibility of a new machine. I have never had a new machine, Sue, because Husband’s business was as a self-employed domestic service engineer/electrician. From the day we were married he has built every one of my washing machines himself. Which was all very well – except for the times I came home to find a space in the kitchen where the machine was when I’d left the house. To my many cries of despair (three kids, two aunties, on dog, one holiday, let to wash for).his breezy answer was always ‘Oh, I’ve sold it … I’ll build you another at weekend). D’you know, I feel a blog coming on! Revenge is sweet!! Jxx


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I can barely wait, Judith 🙂 my late partner, an electrical engineer, did strange things to the nether regions of machines…kept them going long past their prime…I can feel with you 😉


  8. So reminds me of when the washer and dryer died here. Not sure how it happened, but the washer decided to take a walk across the basement. We think it attacked the dryer first because that one became more of a carnival ride for wet clothes than anything useful. Now we have two huge beasts that sing when turned on, turned off, or feel like reminding us that they exist. Strange hearing them through the vents.


  9. BunKaryudo says:

    Sorry to hear your washing machine will shortly no longer be with us. If you have a dishwasher, perhaps it might notice if you threw a few garments in together with the plates and the dishes.


  10. noelleg44 says:

    Your post stuck a chord, Sue. My Mom had an old washing machine that had an open top and wooden rollers on the side, between which clothes were wrung by hand, After that, she hung them out to dry in a large, walled drying yard. Ani seems to have a relationship with that dryer! She’s such a character!


  11. What a cute photo of Ani watching the wash! Almost time for a new machine, Sue.


  12. Oh boy! I remember the old twin tub! That was what my step mother had when I was growing up! It’s time for a new machine! I think you deserve it! ❤


  13. joey says:

    I’m only on my third washing machine. But in 17 years. I think they don’t make them to last anymore. Anything, really. I hope you get something nice.


  14. macjam47 says:

    Sorry for your woes, Sue. My first washer and dryer lasted forever, When it finally died I bought a new one that had a few more bells and whistles and lasted maybe 15 years. Since then I’ve had two more with promises they would last 10 years – nah. Neither made it past seven. I just bought a new one. It has electronic displays and the only way you can change a cycle is to stop and reprogram it, starting the washer all over again. They said it would last 7-8 years. This planned obsolescence is driving me insane. If that is the only way a company can get customers to come back and buy a new machine, things are sad indeed. What happened to pride in your product?


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I agree, Michelle. My original machine… the one with the mangle… must have been over twenty years old and still worked perfectly (apart from the perishing rollers). The best gas stove I had was still going strong from the 1930s. I know that harpping on about the ‘good old days’ is a sign of age, but some things really wore better… and far more sustainable, at the end of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Eliza Waters says:

    Sweet little Ani photos! Sooo cute! ❤
    Appliances are great modern conveniences until they stop working. Mine invariably quit with a full load of soggy clothes inside. I miss the old ones that were simple dials. Now it's all computerized, which to me means more to malfunction and costlier to buy and fix. 'New' it may be, but 'improved?' I wonder…


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