This week I have been learning how to use the washing machine. I am pretty good with sticks and baler-twine (it’s called “Agricultural Engineering”) but normally I try not to get involved with anything technical, that’s Fran’s forte. However, I got mud all over my last pair of overalls, Fran was at work, and I looked at the washing machine lurking Dalek-like under the workbench in the garage and trying to outstare me with its one glass eye and I thought, “how hard can it be?” Well, I now know exactly how hard it can be, and I shall tell you.

I opened the front and put my overalls inside. So far so good.

I closed the glass door and found a confusing dial with lots of meaningless symbols on it and phrases like “non fast colours” and  “synthetics.”

Nowhere did it say “Overalls,” nor “Mud,” which you would think were pretty basic instructions for a washing machine, but I found a setting saying “60 degrees” which seemed a pretty good temperature for washing muddy overalls, so I turned the dial to that.

I know you have to put some sort of soap into these things, and I opened the little drawer at the top. There were three compartments inside. On the shelf above the workbench were three bottles. This was actually pretty self-explanatory, any fool could operate one of these things. I started to feel a lot more confident.

The first bottle said “Detergent” so I poured some into the first compartment.

The second bottle said “Conditioner” so I poured some into the second compartment.

The third bottle had its label missing but it contained some quite attractive-looking translucent green fluid so I poured some into the third compartment.

wasn’t an “On” button but when I slid the soap-drawer shut and nudged the dial with my elbow, lots of red lights started to flash and I heard water running, which is presumably normal in a washing machine.

Inside the glass door, my best overalls started lurching around to an uncertain rhythm. The glass became coated with a thick green film. There weren’t as many bubbles as I had expected, but I wasn’t worried about that because a bubble can’t clean anything.

What I was worried about though, was that the whole brew was starting to look like one of those puddles you get a year after someone has spilt engine-oil on clay soil: Thick, bright green on the surface but with an unsettling bottomless quality which suggests that it is inhabited by something dangerous that may never be known to Man.

I decided to consult Senior Management and rang Fran. She said “Did you put detergent in?”

“Yes.”

Did you put conditioner in?”

“Yes. And some of the green stuff.”

“What green stuff?”

“The thick liquid in the white bottle with no label,”

“Oh. How much?”

“About a pint.”

“Oh bugger, that’s the  two-stroke oil for the strimmer.”

My overalls came out soft and smooth and really comfortable but because I am now quite concerned about all the unnatural chemicals that I may have exposed myself to,  here is a brilliant dessert for this time of year which is very potent at helping us fight cancer:

Gently simmer chopped rhubarb in 1/4″ of water with chopped ginger, chopped turmeric, a chopped un-waxed lemon and some rosemary. Tamarind is also beneficial. Sweeten with a piece of honeycomb or some unrefined sugar, but not too much, just enough to stop your teeth squeaking when you eat it. This is phenomenally good for you.

God bless you and see you on Thursday in the High Street.

Toby.

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