My washing machine has bust. No, really bust. Even the repair man said, gently and with quiet sympathy, that it had got to the end of its natural life.
Now, choosing a new washing machine turned out to be a bit of a problem. The thing is, all washing machines are just boxes with doors in the front. How can you tell which is the one for you?
I wanted a machine that would carry on working uncomplainingly for many years; but on looking through the advertisements I found that strangely enough none of the manufacturers was admitting to their machines' breaking down at the first sight of a pair of unmatched socks.
I wanted a machine that washed the clothes without taking hours about it. The advertisements weren't much help with that, either, but eventually I did find a machine made by the people who made my nice old one. Their website claimed to wash clothes sixty five per cent faster.
And, do you know, I was going to buy it until I read some more and found out that it was actually more than twice as slow as my old machine.
You see, I hadn't realised that sixty five per cent faster meant sixty five per cent faster than a three-legged sleep-walking tortoise, or a jet-lagged snail that's tried to take the short cut across the wet cement, or an adolescent room-tidier.
In the end I spoke to a charming lady in a shop and my new machine is not only less than one per cent slower than my old one, but it has a picture of a sheep on the front and plays the theme from Schubert's The Trout when it finishes a wash.
I think we'll be very happy together.
But it was a jolly narrow escape.
Thing To Do Every Day. Ask yourself: sixty five per cent faster than what?