The best thing since sliced bread: “Candy”, the queen of my humble abode.

Daily post really must stop tempting me. Today, they gave us our daily bread with the following question:

Most of us have heard the saying, “That’s the best thing since sliced bread!” What do you think is actually the best thing since sliced bread?

This got me thinking, and here’s the result….

“Candy”, the queen of my humble abode.  

All the Fashion

(Photo credit: Amarand Agasi)

I can hear you all sighing and saying “Here we go…. TV, computer and mobile phones”. Well, no. Although I am sure they have revolutionised our lives, they has also landed us with kids who are connected to their mobile phones by invisible umbilical cords, use books as door-stops and think that the most famous navigator in history is Internet Explorer. So no, communication technology is not the best thing since sliced bread.

“That’s all very well and good”, you say, “… so stop hedging, and answer the question”. My reply is probably going to have some laughing, whilst others will be beating their feminist breasts and seeking out my IP address in the firm intention to send me my Women’s Lib subscription pack. Nevertheless, I’m going to slap on my under-50’s housewife hat and give you my answer:  The fully-automatic washing machine. Oh, yeah. Mine is called Candy, and she positively rocks this joint.

So why is Candy my heroine? How can a simple washing machine make humanity’s day?

Simple. Whilst some American families were already enjoying the luxury of the very first electric washing machines in 1928, here in Europe we had hand-powered dinosaurs or simply washed by hand, with the added thrill of putting our fingers through the wrangler along with little Johnny’s long johns. Washing the laundry was the household equivalent of a triathlon until the first excruciatingly expensive but fully-automated washing machines were ripped off the shelves by hysterical homemakers in 1947.

The lack of reliable contraception most probably leading to a large family, I’m therefore guessing that the average mother spent three-quarters of her day washing the laundry, giving her biceps that would make Rambo go pale with envy. Her fingertips looked like a bag of prunes, she sweated like a horse and had back pains that must have made childbirth feel like a holiday in the tropics in comparison. I suspect that many a child thought twice about dropping his dinner down his front faced with the strength and nervous exhaustion of a mother who had spent most of her day hoisting sodden sheets in and out of cold water.

Now let’s have a look at this situation today, boys and girls. (Yep, in this modern day and age, the boys are concerned too.) Hands up those of you who just have to press the button on a miracle machine and still manage to have Mount Etna in dirty laundry towering in the corner of the bathroom? Does clean laundry spill out of a basket that is progressively pillaged by kids wearing nothing but their underwear and a pair of headphones? And last but definitely not least, who hasn’t experienced that bottomless vortex when the washing machine splutters and dies and the repair man can’t get the spare part for the next three weeks?

A modern-day Playmobil laundry drama.

A modern-day laundry drama, played out in true MM style. Little My does not like playing Playmobil with me. (My own photo:  Not to be pinched, ta muchly.)

I have a vivid memory of such an incident as the mother of three small children. I defiantly blocked the exit to our home with my 6-week old baby in my arms as her two-year old brother hung on to my legs, beamed and said “Pipi, Mamma!” before peeing copiously into his last change of clothing and leaving me stranded in a pool of urine.

The repair man clocked the regulation “recent mother” shoulder badge of newborn’s milk spew on my shoulder and looked anxiously at my haggard face as I hung baby Little My over my arm, face pitched dangerously towards his sports shoes.

“I do realise how difficult it must be for you with three young children,” he mumbled. I eyeballed him, and fiddled quietly with the door keys in my hand. He quickly realised that I was inches from swallowing the key and forcing him to strip off and trample my laundry in the family tub until a solution was found.  If he wanted to leave the flat in one piece, he’d have to think fast.

“I’ll just call my boss and see if we can lend you a machine, Madame”. Whilst he called, I watched my six-year-old happily playing in the colourful multitude of damp washing draped artistically over the furniture. He chased his imaginary enemy from one makeshift sheet-tent to the other, using the elasticated corners of the sheets as a hiding place for his get-away jeep and chocolate spread sandwich.

“It’s all organised, Madame, we’ll bring you a replacement machine tomorrow at ten”, our Messiah announced with a relieved grin.  Mini-Bigfoot pointed his imaginary gun at him, and said “Bang. You’re dead”.

“Thank you so much”, I replied sweetly. I opened the door then watched him gingerly avoid the puddle of pee and flee down the stairs as my soaking wet two-year-old waved a cheerful goodbye from the landing. I was saved from disaster. Yep, the fully-automated washing machine is most definitely the best thing since sliced bread.


14 thoughts on “The best thing since sliced bread: “Candy”, the queen of my humble abode.

  1. Never thought of the washer, but then again it is one of Mrs Sensibles toys. I don’t like mobile phones either. I hate being at everyone’s beck and call, so mine is normally turned off. If it is a gadget it has to be my book reader. I love books and buying English books in Italy is a pain. So yes I love my e book reader.

    • Aha. Not sure about the “toy” reference”; If I had a choice, I’d rather be writing than digging my kids’ undies out of Candy’s innards 😉 For buying English books, get to a charity shop in a region that attracts British expats! That’s what I do, it’s a great source of books for an economic-crisis friendly budget 🙂

      • I have only seen one shop that sold second hand books, and that was in Sicily. Although I did find a shop in Slovakia that sold new books that were very very cheap. I bought 5 or 6

  2. I totally agree. The washing machine liberated women like nothing else, except for those who could pay to have their laundry done.

  3. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Sliced Bread | Fasting, Food and other musings by determined34

  4. Women have been liberated from doing the laundry, here in Europe, before 1928.
    At least some women. Such as my wife’s grandmother who had an electric washing machine dating back to an estimated 1920 in a village near Valenciennes.
    She was a coal miner’s spouse, not really the type of the today equivalent of a “bobo”, as you can imagine.
    You know that machine well : it is now standing in my living room and attracts the curiosity of friends coming home : the brand is “Securita”, manufacturer’s nationality unknown but positively not Chinese, has a large copper barrel in the middle, a big side wheel powered by an electric motor, (still working well on 110 volts), and transmitting its power by means of a leather belt actuating a system of rod and gears.
    Quite impressive, but “Securita” is a big laugh as you can imagine Antonia’s grandmother, near the outside cellar of her house, pouring hot water and black soap into the barrel (no powder at the time and no water heating in the machine), switching on the china and copper switch typical of the time, being careful not to put her fingers near the cranking system and making sure her feet were dry as the ground connection was not mandatory equipment at the time. Well, it was only 110 volts but she must have suffered some pretty good shocks when water and soap were bubbling out of the barrel and leaking over the switch underneath….
    Liberation came at a price !

    • Hi there Papounet 🙂
      I agree, there were electric washing machines before 1928, but as you say yourself, they were NOT fully automated. Washing machines only became a liberation for both men and women when you could stuff the laundry in, press a button without getting a free Afro-Carribean hair-do, and come back once it had been washed at a given temperature, rinsed twice and spun, ready to be hung out on the line. As you say, back in 1920 they still required a lot of human participation like changing the water for rinsing, and had no full spin to get the water out of the clothes. According to the historical sources I found, owners of these machines in Europe were few and far between; Antonia’s grandmother must have been a woman who got what she wanted 🙂

  5. I think washing machines are greater than sliced bread. It’s so easy to take it for granted, until that one moment it breaks. I’m also a fan of indoor plumbing and flush toilets. With these powers combined, our quality of life is spectacular.

  6. I so agree, MM. Having watched my mother’s joy when she first had a spin-dryer back in the 1950s and remembering what it was like when DH and were new parents in 1968 and i had to wash nappies by hand until we could afford our first (top-loading) washing machine, i don’t even want to imagine life without my fully-automatic treasure.

    As I don’t even like sliced bread, I’d go for indoor plumbing as better too. 🙂

    • I’m not far off giving Candy daily offerings and dancing for her in full Amazonian get-up along with head-dress to stay in her good books now I have two teenaged boys and a pre-teen daughter who changes her clothes every five minutes…… I’m not a fan of sliced bread either, although funnily enough, my quintessentially French kids love the stuff. Work that out.

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