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It was fire-engine red. Sleek and very shiny, this smart and beautiful thing. As I stared at it in wonder, I could hear angels singing Gloria in Excelsis Deo, which is Latin for Your Hoovering Days are Over. No, the angels weren’t calling me home, they were calling me to buy the lovely thing.
It was a smart hoover. I saw it on Amazon for just 99 quid sterling. I didn’t buy it right away, though. Blinded by tears of happiness, I was not blind to the fact that the Brexit sterling pound won’t be worth diddly nor squat soon, hopefully, the way things are going. A price tag of 99 quid sterling might just be the equivalent of 50 cents in the near future, if I’m lucky. I could afford to buy a whole container of them in that case and give them out as Christmas presents to my oppressed hoovering sisters everywhere.
A smart hoover, for those of you who haven’t seen one, does the hoovering itself. You can feck off to meet your friends for coffee or have that massage you promised yourself, lose hours in a bookshop or get yourself a tattoo – you can do anything you want, actually, while the smart hoover at home does all the hoovering for you. Now that, I figured, was as big a coup for the Sisterhood as us getting the vote. And so I simply couldn’t help myself, I had to tell everyone I met. The whole world. But I couldn’t understand the whole world’s lack of enthusiasm.
Firstly there was a grumble from He of the PhD.
“Can it move furniture?” he asked.
“It’s a hoover, not a Transformer. Whaddaya mean?”
And he reminded me of my experience the previous week, when I pulled the piano out from the wall to hoover behind it. There were enough insects – dead and alive – there to start an entire independent insects’ eco-system, one which could shoo us humans out of the gaff altogether – some of them were certainly big enough. Scared? I nearly died.
“So how’s it going to hoover behind the furniture, under the beds, all the fiddly bits on the stairs? Actually, how is it going to climb the stairs? I don’t see any legs…”
“OK, OK, so it needs tweaking. But I could still have it for everyday use.”
He snorted derisively. I don’t hoover every day, you see. I’m hard pushed to manage it once or twice a week. I’m with Quentin Crisp on the whole dust thing. He said there was no need for housework because after the first four years the dust doesn’t get any worse. Although I’ve never actually lived by that. But I aspire to.
A friend of mine dashed my hopes altogether when she told me about her niece in America. She bought a smart hoover. Delighted with herself, she was. But she didn’t formally introduce it to her two Great Danes, nor did she reassure them that smart hoovers were not the instruments of Satan. She neglected to inform them that it wouldn’t gobble them up whole. So she went off to the office after switching her new smart hoover on, and came back to a house full of dogshit, which the hoover had obligingly helped to smear on every floor surface in her apartment. The dogs were so spooked by the thing that they defecated in fear. Everywhere. She had to call professionals in to clean the place, cost her a fortune. And I have a dog. Who’s not very smart. Maybe even as stupid as a Great Dane. My heart sank.
“So what happened the hoover?” I asked her, almost afraid to find out.
“She sent it back to the manufacturer.”
“Did she get a refund?”
“Not exactly. She got a letter threatening to sue.”
“What? Why on earth would they threaten to sue her?”
“She didn’t clean it before posting it. It was minging. Covered in shite.”
And so my dreams of a life without hoovering were destroyed. Utterly. I took it hard, I can tell you. Didn’t hoover for a fortnight. Almost couldn’t eat, I was so upset. (Almost.) And it’s cold comfort indeed to conclude that the blasted thing was probably designed by a man.