What's new with Janey
12 June 2011


WHY is it that when one appliance in my home packs in, the rest of the house joins in? Just before I flew to London last week, my entire home in Glasgow went into meltdown and began a systematic assault on me.

The dial that controls my washing machine decided it had been twisted enough in its lifespan and fell off in pieces. On hearing this tragic news, the electrical element in my storage heater threw a hissy fit, blew a fuse and refused to heat the living-room.

I ran to the wardrobe to pull out a cardigan and the mirror doors jammed in a sock that lay itself on the runners like a crumpled soul, so then the door came off and clattered on top of me.

This horrifying news about the suicidal sock got spread to the bathroom by means that I am not entirely sure of, and the toilet pan seat slammed itself down in anger and broke in half.

The shower head (which hates to be left out of any drama) decided to pack up and started spraying water in all directions like a deformed penis. The last toilet roll got soaked in the process and dripped sadly on to the carpet.

The roller blind in the bathroom came out in sympathy and fell off the window and hit my glass jar that sat sleepily on the ledge. The glass jar didn’t take the assault well and broke into six pieces.

The hallway must have felt very bereft, as it had housed the glass jar in the past, so its grief made the clothes rail in the hall-entry pop a few pegs and all the coats got jammed behind the cupboard door. The noise resonated throughout the flat, and the coats looked like dead people in heap.

At that point, the lock on the outside door made a terrifying noise as a key was inserted into its hole. The lock cried “rape” – it broke and jammed half a key inside its dark belly, refusing to give it up.

If this wasn’t enough, a scented candle on my window ledge hissed oddly, let the wind pick it up and tossed it out of my top-floor bedroom window, taking a tub of talcum with it, and smashed dangerously on to the car park beneath, scaring the wee boys who smoke out the back court.

The mixture of melted splattered blue wax and white talcum looked intriguingly artistic. Fifty more yards into the West End and that would have been a community art installation and a European grant would have secured the site.
Despite its potential as a future Turner Prize winner, I had to go down and clean it up.

The broom took one look at the situation and promptly lost its head. The broom can be temperamental and has been known to be incredibly idle in the past. It houses a family of spiders and takes pride in not disturbing them.

The fridge in the kitchen (which has always been a known self-harmer) managed to break its plastic door shelf and blew a light, just for attention.

The oven ignored the cry to arms and stoically radiated heat from its fan, but then got too excited, overdid itself and blew the thermostat. We had to eat cold lasagne, because the microwave is working on a defrost-only basis since I ignored the constipated noise it was making at Christmas. It has been trying hard to get some attention, but I declared it cheap and stupidly said aloud one day: “We can buy another one for thirty quid.”

On hearing this, the microwave gave up trying to please me. It felt cheapened and dirty.

On realising there was a domestic appliance revolt on my hands, I quickly ran to the sink and shoved bleach down the plughole, as it is usually the prime dissident in the ranks. I caught it just in time, as it was slowly attempting to choke itself on rice crispies and red kidney beans, but I force-fed it hot water through a funnel and it relented. For now. But I know that it’s planning a second assault and is patiently waiting on thick porridge oats coming down to help it out.

The rest of the flat stayed quiet. I was too scared to open a door in case it slammed back and jammed my fingers.

(originally written for and published in Scotsman newspaper)_