My Mum and The Christmas Washing Machine Story!
Yes, another tale from the My Mum collection. Just when I think I’ve come to the end of them either myself or one of my siblings remembers something else. This little tale was one I remembered.
My Mum had come to the kennels where my family and my husband’s twin sister, Marion’s family, lived; as it was Christmas and we were going to a party at Marion’s house. In fact, as my sister and her family were staying with me at the time, they too were going to the party so, my brother, brought Mum over to me in plenty of time.
So, all my family were assembled in my house but we couldn’t help but notice that Mum not only looked as is if she had been living rough on the streets but, I’m sorry to say, smelled like it too. Well, one can imagine that this was not something I wished to bring to the party as my contribution. Marion could be forgiven for expecting something a little more in the way of an aromatic delicacy.
Mum, however, was giving a very good impression of someone whose Tena Lady, or its 1980’s equivalent, had failed miserably in its task of protecting the public from someone with a weak bladder as it was now becoming increasingly apparent that, sadly, Mum suffered from such a problem. Her clothes too looked dirty and dishevelled quite apart from being outrageously punk for someone so elderly. Her clothes sported so many safety pins that I now know how and why the pins got their name…as no part of her sartorial ensemble would have remained at its post without them.
Anyway, my sister and I viewed all of this with some considerable horror as we were rapidly going off the idea of attending the party with all the other guests dressed in their Christmas finery. So what was to be done? Well, Mum had taught us to be ever resourceful so we quickly decided on a plan of action. There was no escaping it. Mum would have to have a bath. In later life Mum was never on good terms with soap and water as she had developed a comprehensive aversion to anything that could cause her to break out in a severe case of hygiene; whereas, my sister and I had, not surprisingly, developed a mutinous liking for personal cleanliness. So, now, how to tackle the most important detail of our plan without which there could be no moving forward? In other words, how would we broach the idea to Mum of lowering herself into a lovely hot bath of soapy water?
We, very soon came to the conclusion, however, that, knowing our Mum’s fighting spirit, the idea of gentle coercion would have to be abandoned in favour of, I’m sorry to say, strong arm tactics. Well, my sister and I were at a level of fitness that could not now be matched by our dear Mum, God bless her. So it was that she was manhandled into the bathroom kicking and screaming, swearing that by our actions this day we would be cut out of her will and that our brother would be her sole beneficiary. We hardly able to contain our relief at this revelation whilst reserving our sympathy for our dear brother who was now as ‘heir apparent’ first in line for all the black refuse sacks filled with God knows what as well as five wardrobes from one room. He would miss out on the Cocktail Cabinet, Champagne Bucket and Ice Tongs as they had long since gone but this would cause my brother no discomfort as he was, much to Mum’s disgust, not fond of alcohol!
So, with Mum in the bath what to do with her clothes as I had nothing that would fit her? There was only one thing we could do and that was to put everything in the washing machine and then in to the tumble dryer but this course of action had one over-riding difficulty. How to keep Mum in the bath for as long as it would take to wash her clothes on the shortest programme and then tumble dry them? Then one of us had a light bulb moment and came up with the idea of plying Mum, as it was Christmas, with a nice glass of Whisky. I knew I had her special Guinness glass ready to take to the party and the fact that it was, of course, a pint glass, suited our purposes perfectly. Now that would not only keep her warm on the inside but the lovely hot sudsy water would keep her warm on the outside too.
So, now, with Mum firmly ensconced in the bath, because she couldn’t get out without our help, this gave her two Machiavellian daughters the opportunity to grab her clothes and quickly put them on the hottest but quickest wash the machine would oblige us with. However, long before the programme was finished Mum was clamouring to get out of her watery hell. But either my sister or I would go in and top up the hot water but each time one of us went in we couldn’t help but notice that Mum’s skin was taking on the look of a wrinkled prune and it therefore came as some relief to us knowing that it was not the water that was causing her to scowl at us in that murderous fashion as she had never been fond of fruit!
Anyway, at last the washing machine gave up its load and we quickly instructed the tumble dryer to work at its hottest temperature before once again going in to top up the bath water. By now, Mum was ready to commit infanticide, no, perhaps not that as, despite our supreme level of fitness, we were a bit too long in the tooth for that! But without doubt murder was definitely on Mum's mind and we would need to summon all our courage when it came to the point where she was to be freed from her watery hell. However, it is no good getting older if one doesn’t get any cleverer so our plan included quickly wrapping her up in the biggest bath towel we could find and by so doing pin her arms to her sides where they could cause no harm to her two devoted but scheming daughters.
So now with Mum free of grime and smelling, by comparison, divine, we then set to work to dress her. Her clothes were now clean and sweet smelling but perhaps washing them in the hottest wash was not such a good idea. Or maybe it was the tumble dryer that was the guilty party because something had happened that was in no way part of our grand plan. Yes, you’ve guessed it! The bloody things had taken against us and had by their own volition shrunk to a size that only just covered her unmentionables. By ‘unmentionables’ I refer to what I have previously called Shop-Lifter’s Bloomers, as they were what I would describe as roomy in the leg department having legs that were elasticized at the knee. I know some people use the term ‘smalls’ when referring to their underwear but that would in no way be a suitably fitting epithet for Mum’s bloomers!
However, despite her dress being a little short and tight, we were all very happy with how Mum now looked and smelled and our only cause for concern now was that she was a little unsteady on her feet. Hardly surprising when one considers how much Whisky she had consumed but it was worth it just to see her now smiling face which had so recently become friendly with a bar of soap and a flannel.
The prune like wrinkles would, I felt sure, soon go and there would be no need for her to go to one of those establishments that nowadays dispense treatments such as Botox, though what was on offer in the eighties would not of course have included such as that. But even as we stood looking proudly at what we had achieved the wrinkles were slowly disappearing and being replaced with something akin to a frown. Oh dear, the Whisky was wearing off and if we didn’t get her into a public place pretty damn quick we might find ourselves in need of re-constructive surgery as Mum did not display the slightest sign of the characteristic known as gratitude.
Anyway, to conclude this little story it only remains for me to say that despite our earlier misgivings we all had a wonderful time at the party and in common with some other Christmases we had a party to go to every night for the whole of the Christmas week.