I am in the living room, putting my weekly letters to my granddaughters into their respective envelopes when I am interrupted by the most terrible wailing sound coming from the kitchen. I drop everything and hurry kitchenwards,
my first thought being that the lovely Kay, who helps me keep my house in order, has had a terrible, terrible accident.
In the kitchen, Kay is bent over - but
in laughter, not in pain. The wailing noise is emanating from the vacuum cleaner which appears to be in the throes of agony. Neither Kay nor I have ever heard anything quite like it.
Kay, one of the most resourceful people I have ever known, turns off the vacuum cleaner and starts to pull clumps of hair, pieces of wool and lengths of string from the cleaner’s head. At her request I find a pair of scissors to help in this delicate
task. It occurs to me that I need to be a Neater Knitter, one who doesn’t cast off my latest woolly project with gay abandon and leave oddments of wool of varied colours littering the living room floor.
Of course then there is the issue of the hair - which can only be my fault, being as Mr B is, shall we say, follically challenged. What on Earth have I been doing, shedding hair here, there and everywhere to clog up the innards
of my stalwart vacuum cleaner?
Kay says we need to open up a secret compartment in the head of the vacuum cleaner. Secret, you understand, as in that I never even
knew it was there. We try a few implements to gain entry (I imagine it’s a bit like an Escape Room exercise - except that, never having tried one of those experiences, I don’t know what I am talking about ) before we find the ideal instrument,
a 5p coin from my Turning Tides collection box. Please don’t worry, the charity will not suffer as we did replace said coin once it had done its job.
secret compartment doesn’t, in the end, offer up any solutions to the Wailing Problem, so Kay secures it (using the 5p coin) and turns on the vacuum cleaner to see if her efforts have prevailed. The wail has subsided into a kind of sustained groan.
Better - but definitely not completely recovered. I tell Kay it really isn’t the end of the world (my grandchildren know that this is my answer to every problem I feel unable to solve) but she is made of Sterner Stuff. Ten minutes later, she calls me
back into the kitchen, with a triumphant look on her face.
She has investigated every single pipe and finally discovered the problem. There is a biro lodged in
the cleaner’s handle, wrapped round with, yes indeed, string, wool and many strands of hair. A biro! Kay cannot believe that she would ever sweep up a biro. I inspect it and don’t recognise it at all. We do, it is true, have an enormous number
of pencils, pens, crayons and the like - many of them freebie souvenirs from conferences I have attended, back in the days when I was a Working Gal - but this one doesn’t carry any identifying information. Kay tries it out and, despite its undoubted
sufferings trapped in the handle of the vacuum cleaner, it still works. I put it in one of the beakers on the hall windowsill where all the other writing instruments live. Kay tries out the cleaner on the stairs and reports that it now has amazing power.
How long, we wonder, has it been struggling on with a biro stuck in its throat? No wonder it was wailing. Think if it was me - or you! I have new respect for my vacuum cleaner,
soldiering on until it had had enough.
Not a whinge or a moan until today.
My vacuum cleaner is a hero. No ifs, no buts...