From the Horrors of the Outhouse

Post CLIX

Here’s the story of a dishwasher, reflection, and midnight mowing.

How the heck do you wash dishes? I’m sorry, this will generate a sizeable groan from people of a certain age, but… how the heck do you wash dishes? Our dishwasher broke this week. The last time we didn’t have a dishwasher, I was a little kid and no parent makes their child wash dishes. Unless you’re incredibly cruel. No, the life of the dishwasher is the only one I know. So when it broke this week, it left an obvious question hanging in the air. How the heck do you wash dishes? I didn’t even know where the hot water tap was. I will tell you something I discovered, though, apart from the location of the hot water tap. I really enjoyed it. There’s something very satisfying, it feels like you’re actually doing something instead of some machine doing all the legwork. And my hands are wonderfully soft. I admit, wanting to wash dishes isn’t the manliest pursuit, although it is a clincher for most women, but I don’t care. For the few weeks we won’t have a dishwasher, I don’t think it’ll be as bad as I imagined it would. In fact, I’m even considering it a luxury item that’s not needed if I ever move out. Consider me a changed man. And that change came from the olden days. Somewhat predictably.

Admittedly, people of my parents vintage not only had to wash the dishes, they also had an outside toilet and had a bath once a week in a tin tub in front of a coal fire. And this was going on until the ‘70s. The bath water was boiled from a kettle on the stove and you had to share with your siblings because ‘there’s only so much water in the world’. They used to have a hook for the bath in the tiny back yard. The houses were only a couple of rooms and had anywhere from five to ten people living in them. That was mother and father’s childhood. A simpler time. And now we have arrived at the point whereby the ancient art of washing up is long forgotten. No, those days toughened you up. Going to pee in the middle of the night in the middle of winter nearly killed you. The last time going to pee in the middle of the night nearly killed me was the other week, when a giant spider came from nowhere, like some creepy pervert, and nearly gave me a heart attack. The horrors of the outhouse were certainly worse than that.

The image of my father as a child living in an industrial powerhouse in Northern England, playing on the wide streets the grid pattern provided, on his homemade wooden tricycle under the watchful gaze of the looming twin 100-foot gas tanks at the end of the street, is a nostalgic one. Playing marbles with his friends. Going to play down by the river. The days of rows upon rows of Victorian terraces with smoke billowing out of their chimneys, surrounded by heavy industry, are long gone. We’re definitely better off today, and safer, but now and again, there’s just some little thing, that reminds you of how easy it is to forget the simple things. And how much I miss them.

I always found it rather strange when a new thing arrives at home. And no, not the new pet or baby. A new appliance. Like a dishwasher or a fridge. The last one broke, so when you get a new one, everyone in the house gets together and agrees, ‘This one, we treat this one better’. Like it’s sentient. Like we abused the last one like an unwanted sock. Like we feel guilty we mistreated it and we must do better by the new one, in honour of the old one. We can be better this time. Show our true humanity. We will savour this dishwasher as if it’s a precious puppy. It’s bull, though. After five minutes, you’re kicking it. And after a year, it breaks and you need a new one. And you get a new one. And then you vow to do better by that one, to care for it. And after five minutes, you’re kicking it.

There are always new rules to abide by. With this appliance, we will do this. And you never do. But why is there all this ceremony? Why do we feel guilty? That dishwasher, it’s not alive. Yeah, it’s dead, but to say, ‘We need to do better this time’, which every single person does, is insane. ‘We need to look after this one’. It’s technology. It’s gonna break. Yeah, take care of it, but don’t feel like you’re a failure. Like it’s your fault the last one is dead and rotting on a dump. Technology will break. Dishwashers will catch fire. Ours did. The bit where the water flows through. We somehow set water on fire. And there is mother, ‘Okay, we got a new one, let’s take better care of this one’. Jeez, it’s not like a goldfish we forget to feed.

I’m not saying we should abuse technology. It’s a wonderful marvel. My father as a kid in that bath, could never have envisioned this world we are in. A dishwasher for him had a face. And a name. And was paid by the hour. Technology has made plate cleaning a chore of the past. And that’s brilliant. But we need a sense of perspective. Shit is attracted to fans. And it’s our job as humankind to act as a barrier between the shit and the fan. But there will come occasions when you dive in front of the one you were protecting, and just one bullet, just one, gets through. You did your best, but you’re only human. Shit will hit the fan. It’s wonderfully endearing that we feel we must better ourselves, but there’s nothing we can do. Get on with life. Stop worrying about appliances. There are greater worries. Trays, for example.

We ran out of trays this week, they were preoccupied with cake holding. 290 of them. So we had no trays to carry food around. Have you any idea how hard life is without a tray? It’s impossible. I was trying to balance a boiling hot plate of hot meat on one arm, whilst trying to hold a can of Coke with the hand at the end of said arm, whilst carrying a mousse with the other hand. And you cannot imagine where the spoon was.

You see, mother and father had baked the little cakes for the primary school mother works at, for a fair to raise funds for the school and for an orphanage in Jerusalem. Which is a lovely cause. The only problem was that mother accidentally also sold the trays. Meaning we have no trays. You can’t be too angry because it’s at the expense of education and supplies for the poor little children in Israel, and in any case, I wasn’t angry anyway. More perplexed. How the heck does one sell the trays? I am now worrying what else mother has sold…

It’s been a strange sorta week. I mean, the other day, the neighbour was mowing his lawn at 10 at night, in his pyjamas, going round in circles. The light was pretty much gone. Is that normal? I’m not his age. I’m not 36. I won’t be 36 until long in the future. 2026. Good God. That’s not far away. Gee, that was a depressing realisation. But anyway, I don’t know if when I get to that age if midnight mowing is normal or if it’s ‘give the police a call’ time. It’s all been about perspective lately. He’d stopped by half ten. He then started digging. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen his wife in a few days.

Hmm, probably nothing.

It’s always strange your last week as a certain age. This week. My last as 23. I feel like I’m growing up even though I’ve achieved nothing in the previous 23 years of my life. But 23. It feels like the last year as a youth. 24 feels like an adult age. Like I’ve arrived at adulthood. There’s something young about 23. It just sounds ‘young’. But 24. Now I have some growing up to do. Or I can run away from it. But in any case, there’s always a strange aura in this last week. Like the end is nigh. It always makes me sad to say goodbye to an age. My last post as a spunky 23-year-old. Onwards, eh? Who knows what the next year has in store? Might be naff all. Or I might become ruler of the universe.

Probably naff all.

Yes, I’ve learnt a lot this week about the values of modernity. Reflection. The art of balance. Mothers oblivious selling habits. The grounding provided by the plight of Jerusalem’s orphans. The fact I’ll be old sooner than I realised. Change. The potentially murderous habits of a neighbour that I’m sure is nothing but stupid paranoia (*nervously looks out of window*). Getting emotional over stupid things like saying goodbye to an uneventful period of one’s life. Apprehension over the ridiculously cloudy nature of the year to come. And how hard it is to pull a fitted dishwasher out of a unit without it falling on you.

Whereas I can plainly see it’s just a heap of metal, mother will undoubtedly want to give the dishwasher a proper send off. A Viking burial with a choir singing Amazing Grace. “Godspeed you metal munchkin”, she says, waving a handkerchief. It’s ridiculous. I mean, for starters, with its flaming history, it’ll probably give itself a Viking burial.

That’s how far we’ve come, readers. From the horrors of the outhouse to the horrors of the appliance. There’s only one word for that.

Holy hell…

It was once said on Doctor Who, “We all change. When you think about it, we’re all different people, all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you gotta keep moving, so long as you remember all the people you used to be.”

Peace Out :|:


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. You can leave a comment and/or like this post below, or by clicking the title on the top of this post if you are on the archives page. Likes and follows greatly appreciated. Thanks.


Please feel free check out the latest posts from my other two blogs:

To Contrive & Jive
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post

Hark Around the Words
New Posts Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Click Here to Read the Latest Post


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