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The washing machine is on its last legs. Knackered. And there’s a pool of water in the kitchen.

It all started, I think, when I was trying to figure out the code that’s somewhere between Google’s infamous algorithm and early Martian hieroglyphics. I can just about make out the well-worn settings between 1 and 5, and I haven’t got the faintest idea what the difference is except if I get it wrong, the whites turn out pink and the wool looks like it’s been through a wringer — it has — and has shrunk to a third the size it’s supposed to be. And trust me, the way things are going with my girth, I need woollies to be bigger — most certainly not smaller.

When I twist the dials a whole series of red, yellow and green lights come on.

And then it starts beeping. Then sort of ticking, like as if it’s a countdown timer on one of those action movies where the hero has to pick between cutting the red or the green wire to save the world. I can’t even pick a red or green light with all of the buzzing and sploshing that might happen if I get it wrong. Imagine the mess on the kitchen floor then.

When it finally gets going, it starts whirring and sploshing, then banging and spinning and getting faster and faster and seems ready to take off.

- Mick O’Reilly, Foreign Correspondent

Spin cycle? How do I answer that conundrum when I work in the media and know a thing about spinning stuff — and washing people’s dirty linen in public. I can’t get the thing to wash my own T-shirts and underpants in the privacy of my own soaking kitchen, never mind anyone else’s.

Pre-wash cycle? I gave up riding a bicycle years ago and just looking at the washing machine lodge under the counter there’s no way in God’s green earth that I could take this washing machine for a bike ride.

And then it asks me for a eco setting. That’s pretty progressive considering that this machine outdates that little Swedish schoolgirl and her eco settings by a good decade or so at a quick guess.

Rinse? No, I think to myself. If I wanted to rinse the clothes I could have swirled them around in the soapy bath water after I’ve scrubbed myself down and hung them up to dry on that line you see in hotel bathrooms.

Then the door won’t close. Well, it will, that’s not entirely true. It’s just that it won’t close tight enough to shut off the sensor telling me that the door isn’t close. Literally, it means turning off the entire washing machine at the plug, leaving it for five minutes, then turning it back on. Then it takes forever to perform a systems check — I’m sure pilots don’t have such a rigorous check program as this beast — before you go through the while twisting and turning of knobs and selecting eco, pre-wash, rinse and cycle mode.

Then you have to give the door a good solid whack to override the locked-door sensor.

Now we’re good to go.

more off the cuff

And into which one of those little plastic trays do I put the washing powder and the lavender-scented liquid that keeps my colours white — even the pink ones that should have been white to begin with?

There’s a crush of hardened powder built up in one of the trays that makes it impossible for me to figure out what goes where. It’s just a matter of giving it your best shot. Besides, what’s the worst that can happen — The whites are already pink.

When it finally gets going, it starts whirring and sploshing, then banging and spinning and getting faster and faster and seems ready to take off.

And when it’s done — I can’t get that stupid door open!