Saturday, 12 December 2015
When it comes to vacuum cleaners: I'm a sucker. I just love them, when they're all lined up sparklingly new in the department store. It's a different story when they're put to the use they're built for.
My mum had a cylinder cleaner which I recall was a "Little Elf". There was nothing little or elf like about it. No doubt some bright spark in the company's creative department came up with that name. It's the woman of the house's little helper - an elf, they're helpful and little. And a misnomer was born.
It was about as helpful as a warthog in pain. The sound levels were ear-splitting and it "glided" on runners. Supposedly these runners allowed the machine to be gently and accurately guided across carpet, parquet floor, lino and cobbles. In reality such was the inertia of this monstrous bag of wind that it required a super human effort to get it to budge an inch. The slightest change in surface brought the thing to a juddering halt and you with it.
It had as much suction as a heavy smoker with half a lung. When, after an age, it had managed to hoover up the dust it needed emptying. Such was its design quality that in order to get at the collecting sack - made of heavy duty canvas - the sort used to make circus big tops - one had to balance the machine on one end using both knees to hold it upright and then prise open the lid. Carrying out this manoeuvre invariable meant that the machine toppled over spilling the canvas bag and much of its contents on the floor or carpet so recently cleaned.
Another unique design feature was the hose connecting the cleaning head to the body of the machine. This would unerringly buckle and equally unerringly untwist itself with a speed and ferocity that put many an innocent 1950's housewife into a swoon. It would, it goes without saying, disgorge its contents all over the floor and housewife or if you were lucky to afford one - the cleaning lady.
Things move on apace in the'60's, 70's and 80's vacuum cleaner wise. Canvas bags gave way to disposable paper ones, electric leads became retractable and manufactures tried to design them so they were manoeuvrable and, heaven forbid, attractive. I fondly remember our Meile: a delightful little number that suffered an unfortunate fate, getting its lead entangled with my legs and then bouncing rapidly and destructively down the stairs.
And then into the age of the Dyson: Frankly until recently all our Dyson have been buggers to handle. Maintainance has been a chore - washing and drying out at least 3 filters: re-assembling required a mechanical engineering degree. And woe betide you if you accidentally opened the dirt collector.
I bought one of Dyson's first cordless. You know the type; 6 hours to charge and 2 minutes to discharge. It had about enough juice to allow me to empty the cigarette tray in the car.
Our most recent Dyson - a DC22 - was a bugger to manoeuvre around the house. It picked up the dirt right enough until one day having cleaned one of the filters I couldn't lock it back into place. For a month or so the thing was dragged around the house with sellotape securing the aforementioned filter. It worked... just.
I was tired of humping a large machine up and down the stairs. Friends I knew had two machines, one for downstairs and one which lived permanent upstairs. But I fancied a truly light, portable cordless model. One you could swing about with one hand. Reach the ceiling, and curtains, clean a carpet and without a pause run the brush up the stairs.
I looked at a few and read numerous reviews. It was clear to me at least that Dyson had cracked it. The handheld V6. The reviews were stunning. After mentioning how expensive it was, every review went on to say what a super machine it was. You could keep your AEG, Samsung, Bosch etc handheld: Dyson swept all before it!
So I bought a Dyson V6 Fluffy +. With three different powered cleaning heads, and a boost button which turned it into an Imperial Star Destroyer: it certainly looked the part. It also broke down so it could be easily stowed away.
It has changed my cleaning life. It's so light and flexible I hoover almost everyday. The carpet has a speck or two of dust on it , out comes Mr Fluffy and in no time the downstairs is given a lovely buff. And switching to Mega Boost - you can feel the force. A lightsaber or what!