When life humbles you in ways you never expected

By Nina Steele 

Being originally from the Third World, one of the perks of moving to the West, is the convenience that it offers in terms of daily living. Microwaves, washing machines and vacuum cleaners are household appliances that I suspect most people in those poor parts of the world have either never heard of, or have only seen on TV.

Washing machines are particularly high on my list of things that I hold dear since moving over here, because back in the Ivory Coast, washing clothes is still done mainly by hand. Middle class families often have maids to carry out such chores and there are also people (generally men) who will collect dirty clothes from door to door, wash them (often using water from rivers nearby) and return them for a fee. I remember using such help as a student, and most other students did the same.

Here in the UK, I do on occasions wash a few items of clothing by hand, but it is fair to say that these are rare occurrences. And so you can imagine my annoyance at first when our washing machine broke down on Saturday morning when my husband was out on his weekly cycle run. Because the best cycle routes are in the countryside, he generally takes the car to get to where he wants to start cycling. It is an arrangement that has worked perfectly so far, as I get the chance to get on with my own work, including working on the website and sorting our house out.

Not only did the washing machine stop working, but I could not get hold of my husband to ask him to come back so we could work out a solution together, as his mobile phone was turned off! I had to think of a solution fast.

At first I thought of taking the clothes to a launderette not too far from our house, however, with no car, I changed my mind. And then, out of the blue, came the only other solution left; to wash everything by hand!

And so, I sprang into action. Filling the bathtub with water, adding washing powder and leaving the clothes to soak for about 30 minutes, for both coloured and non coloured clothes. It took me about 2 hours to get through the whole lot!

It is back breaking stuff, and I kept thinking to myself, thank God it is just the two of us. I don’t think that I would have been so keen to wash an entire week’s worth of dirty clothes by hand, if we had a child to add to the mix. One of the perks of being childless I guess! Not that I ever want to go through this again. But of course like with everything in life, you can never say never!

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