Monday 29 May 2023
This weekend, our new washing machine is delivered. It is such an upgrade, I feel as if I’ve joined the space age. And I am smitten …
It is sleek and silent. The controls are an intuitive inspiration to navigate and its zips through the weekend laundry with eco-friendly ease. Oh I could and sit and gaze at it all day!
Now that does take me back! Because in the late 70s, when we got our first automatic machine that is exactly what my elder brother and I did. Pulled up small chairs and sat there, with our bowls of Rice Krispies, foregoing Saturday ‘Swap Shop‘ on TV to watch the clothes rotating round in the drum instead; such was the excitement!
Although it was a fond farewell to the old ‘twin-tub top loader’ device, which I recall being honoured to help with… very occasionally. My chubby toddler legs planted firmly on a kitchen stool, mum would let me use the huge wooden tongs to haul soggy garments from the washing side to the spinner!
I can only imagine one almighty mess with me at the helm of this operation but I think that mum was so busy marvelling about what a step-change this was from the laundry days of her childhood and doubtless, re-telling yet again the gruesome tale of her brother, getting his thumb caught in the mangle (ouch), that she failed to notice!
So, from the menacing mangle machine to my Bosch series 4; what rapid technological progress in my mum’s lifetime alone! And perhaps that is the secret of its allure?
Who can dispute the huge labour saving benefits it has brought to the home? Actually, let me just amend that, homes in the developed world. In his brilliant TED Talk ‘The magic Washing Machine’ Hans Rosling, not only captures, with charm, the the impact of the first automatic machine but also challenges us to address the disparity in global technological development and the issues this poses for both equality of opportunity and world-wide energy consumption.
Whilst acknowledging the severity of climate change issues, Hans remains an enthusiatic advocate of the washing machine throughout, citing in his hugely engaging talk
“If you have a democracy, people will vote for washing machines…”
And many others agree. Google ‘the benefits of the washing machine for women’ and there are countless authors, from the Vatican to University researchers who have written about how reducing the chore of washing that weekly load from a 4-hour slog to a 40 minute automation has had a profound impact on our world, and women’s lives in particular. Tina Ruseva CEO of Montessa, writing on International Women’s Day in 2020, sums it up neatly ” … contraception, washing machines, and the Internet – technology has empowered women like no public program in human history. In fact it has empowered society as a whole….”
So my marvelling is not misplaced this afternoon, in fact I feel utterly justified in brewing myself a nice coffee and taking a moment to moon over my newest kitchen recruit once more.
Welcome washing machine and were you on the ballot paper in the next election…you’d probably get my cross!