It’s so bad that dish­wash­ers are so cheap

The Jewish Chronicle - - FEATURES - SI­MON ROUND

LAST WEEK, OUR dish­washer went on the blink. The same day we re­ceived our com­bined gas/elec­tric­ity bill. Th­ese two events are not con­nected in any way — ex­cept for the fact that when we looked into the price of re­plac­ing the dish­washer it came to less than the monthly power bill (ad­mit­tedly we have a very cheap dish­washer and used a lot of elec­tric­ity and gas last month)

The ob­vi­ous thing to do was to buy a new dish­washer, see­ing as the charge for fix­ing it was likely to be al­most as much as buy­ing a new one. We ag­o­nised about it for a while, looked into the prices of new dish­wash­ers and de­cided that we would go ahead and buy. But be­fore we did, I thought it might just be worth clean­ing out the fil­ter. And lo and be­hold, the dish­washer worked as good as new (which of course it was more or less).

The fact re­mains that goods which used to last for decades are now more or less dis­pos­able. A cou­ple of years ago we were given a Noddy DVD at a time when my daugh­ter, Lucy, was ob­sessed by the go­ings on in Toy Town. So we bought a DVD player at Sains­bury’s with the weekly shop — no ag­o­nis­ing , no pay­ment plans, and the bill was not markedly more ex­pen­sive than any other week. How long be­fore you start see­ing “three for the price of one” dig­i­tal ra­dios and “HD Ready TV — buy one get one free”?

Con­trast this with pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions. My grand­mother and grand­fa­ther bought a fridge years be­fore I was born. They still had it when they moved into the old folks home more than 30 years later (they were told they could not take it with them). Ad­mit­tedly it didn’t keep the food par­tic­u­larly cool, but as they didn’t have cen­tral heat­ing, their house was al­ways cold any­way.

Even my mum and dad had a dif­fer­ent idea about house­hold items. For ex­am­ple, de­spite be­ing mod­er­ately well off, they never bought a telly — they rented one in­stead. This was at a time that tele­vi­sions were both ex­pen­sive and un­re­li­able — so much so that we knew what bis­cuits to get in for the re­pair man when he came on his reg­u­lar monthly vis­its. And as for buy­ing a video, well there were re­con­nais­sance trips to Dixons, ex­ten­sive re­search in var­i­ous cat­a­logues and Which guides be­fore they even­tu­ally de­cided to rent one (it went wrong af­ter about three weeks).

My television was pur­chased specif­i­cally for the 2002 World Cup which th­ese days makes it prac­ti­cally an an­tique (in­deed, the fact that I watched Eng­land play in the fi­nal stages of a ma­jor cham­pi­onships on it makes me come over all nos­tal­gic).

There are var­i­ous con­clu­sions to be reached. Per­haps we should launch a “white goods aren’t only for Christ­mas/Chanu­cah” cam­paign. Also, I know for a fact that the very act of leav­ing an old telly or wash­ing ma­chine out to be col­lected by the coun­cil, raises the global tem­per­a­ture by a frac­tion of a de­gree.

But most im­por­tantly, I miss the telly re­pair man who al­ways seemed to have a pen­cil be­hind his ear and a van parked out­side packed with a few ex­tra cath­ode ray tubes just in case. I must have spent hours watch­ing him pull off the pan­els, tweak the cir­cuits, re­place tran­sis­tors, tune and re-tune the chan­nels. In­deed I be­came so en­thused by the process that I at­tempted to fix the telly my­self when I was 10.

On re­flec­tion per­haps I should have waited un­til it broke first.

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