The Lockdown Diaries | Week 13: In Which Everything We Own is Broken
I’m going to open this week’s diary entry by presenting you with a short list of all of the things that have broken down /temporarily stopped working in our house since the UK lockdown started:
* The electricity
* The water pressure
* The car
* The internet
* The dishwasher
* The tumble drier
* My brain
So, yeah, it IS, indeed, a short list, but it’s also pretty much everything we were depending on to make lockdown even vaguely bearable, really, which has made us feel a bit like we’re on some weird kind of Hunger Games-style survival show, where the producers are all, “OK, they’ve proved they can survive without ever leaving the house, so now let’s see if they can do it without heat or running water, ‘cos that’ll be a laugh…”
Thankfully for us – and for everyone having to read these diary entries, for that matter – none of these breakdowns happened at the same time, and all but one were fixed relatively quickly, which is why you’re only just hearing about them now, instead of in the form of several long, hysterical blog posts at the time. They were all, however, just a little bit stressful when they did happen, though, because, I mean, what are you supposed to do when you’re not allowed to leave your house, on literal fear of death, but everything IN your house decides to start breaking down? We couldn’t get someone to come in and fix all of the broken things, and we couldn’t just head out for a few hours until the electricity – or whatever it was this time – came back on again, so each of these events was yet another reminder that things are different now, and that staying home doesn’t necessarily mean staying safe.
As I said, all but one of the items on my list got fixed relatively quickly – all except for the tumble drier, which, this week decided that it had had enough of drying clothes, and would now be returning them to us even wetter than when they started. Now, of all of the things that could break down right now, the tumble drier is obviously one of the least important ones, so file this under “Things That Are A Bit of a Nuisance, Really,’ rather than ‘Things That Are of Earth Shattering Importance,’ but, of course, it has been a bit annoying – not least because we currently do at least 452 loads of laundry each week, and it’s hardly ever dry enough to hang things on the line.
This week we’ve had torrential rain every single day, so we’ve had to resort to cranking up the heating, and basically just turning the house into a sauna from all of the steam coming off the piles of wet clothes/ towels/ bedding etc permanently draped over the radiators. Something has to give, folks, and, unfortunately for me and my anxiety, it looks like that thing is going to have to be my insistence on not allowing anyone to enter the house. Imagine me as Gandalf, here, standing at the door shouting, “YOU SHALL NOT PASS!” to a confused looking washing machine repair-person. Because it looks like that’s what’s probably going to happen.
The thing is, the tumble drier is still under warranty. And we can’t really afford to keep the heating on all summer, just so we can dry our clothes. So, Terry is firmly in favour of just calling the repair company and getting it fixed. I, meanwhile, am less keen on this plan, on account of the fact that it will most likely kill us: and I know that because, this week Terry got another shielding letter from the government, reiterating that he is highly likely to die if he comes into contact with another human being, and informing him that he should ideally remain in solitary confinement until the end of July.
To be fair, the letter does go on to say that Terry is now “allowed” outside to exercise once per day, but makes it clear that exercising TWICE per day, say, would probably kill him, and that contact with The Others definitely will. I’ve double-checked, and there’s no clause saying, “Don’t allow anyone into your house, unless your tumble drier breaks down, in which case it’s fine,” so while logically I know that someone wearing a face mask, and only interacting with the tumble drier itself, is probably NOT going to spread Covid-19 to every surface in the house, I’m nevertheless haunted by the idea that, two years ago, we bought a washing machine/tumble drier that was one day going to kill us. Which, honestly, is EXACTLY the kind of thing that would happen to us, isn’t it?
I know that sounds insane, obviously. This, however, is one of the reasons I’m so incredibly pissed off with the way that shielding has been handled, with people like Terry regularly receiving letters and texts that are literally designed to terrify them into staying indoors and having no contact with anyone, even if there’s no actual risk involved. I hate that we have to break “the rules” to sit in my parents’ garden at a two metre distance from them, and I hate that I feel guilty about doing it, even though I know perfectly well that the “rule” we’re breaking is actually just advice, and that it’s advice that fails to take into account our individual circumstances.
Most of all, I hate that something as simple as getting our tumble drier fixed is now something that’s going to require planning, and face-masks, and the complete decontamination of our kitchen and hallway, and that it’s something that I’m going to worry about for at least 2 weeks after it happens. I hate it, because I know this is how health anxiety starts, and, while that ship has well and truly sailed for me, I can see a future coming, in which tens of thousands of people are too scared to get their tumble driers fixed, because they have a letter telling them that if they allow anyone who doesn’t live with them to cross their threshold, they will be playing Russian Roulette with their lives, basically.
Anyway. This was really just supposed to be a short post about our tumble drier, but I’ve somehow managed to turn it into a giant rant which is almost guaranteed to get people messaging me to point out that some people don’t even HAVE a tumble drier to break, imagine! And, yes, I know that, of course, so please read this post in the tone of someone who is well aware that there are much more serious things happening in the world right now, but who also understands that it’s possible to care about those things, AND want to be able to remove all of the wet towels from her radiators sometime this year. Yes.