Richard Ord: This is why British is sometimes still best

Being chased through my new home by an out-of-control washing machine was, strangely enough, one of the more comforting events of the week.
Some window cleaners, yesteryear.Some window cleaners, yesteryear.
Some window cleaners, yesteryear.

Thankfully, I am able to continue the tradition of blaming the latest female in my life.

As I have mentioned previously, my current squeeze is German, thought we still haven’t worked out the most appropriate naming convention for our, erm, ‘union’.

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‘My partner’ suggests some sort of business arrangement. ‘Er indoors’, is too Seventies, ‘girlfriend’ too schoolyard. ‘Friend’ is too distant, ‘my other half’ too close.

I think she’d prefer it if I called her ‘my better half’ ... so I’ve gone for ‘The German’.

And being German she’s convinced everything her countrymen have ever made is the best there is.

Since the Brits appear to be making less and less, I’m not best placed to argue.

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Having visited the country together, The German takes great pleasure in pointing out how her country excels.

Sometimes I’m caught off guard. “Window cleaners!” she once exclaimed out of the blue. “What’s that about?”

I proceeded to defend this traditional working class occupation as if I were arguing the case for more police on our streets.

The window cleaner does a magnificent job, I said. Many still use the chamois leather, yes, but they have advanced to develop such trailblazing window washing machinery as the, erm, long pole with hose attachment.

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Instead of risking life and limb climbing extendable ladders, they can now scrub windows from the street with their 20ft long window washer mop thingies (my Churchillian defence of the window cleaner fell away a little as I struggled for the name of that new-fangled cleaning implement), but my pride in the tradition of the Great British window cleaner shone through.

“Why,” I put it to The German, “Don’t you have window cleaners in Germany?”

“Well, no,” she said. “Not really. We have windows that open inwards.”


“Yes,” she said. “German windows open inwards. So you can clean them yourself.”

And so it continued...

German roads? Bigger, faster, straighter.

German beer? Cleaner, purer, more variety.

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German drainage? Bigger gutters, wider pipes, less flooding.

German sausages ... you get the drift.

So when it came to choosing a new washing machine for my flat, it had, The German insisted, to be German. The Bosch Ecosilence drive duly arrived, despite having to be driven through our narrow, poorly drained roads by drivers brought up on tainted British ales.

One spin cycle later ... and the machine had gone full Hieronymus Bosch, turning my kitchen into hell on earth. Crashing across the floor like a demented robot.

Can you explain that? I asked The German, smugly.

Uneven British flooring, apparently ...