Subscribe to the Oldie and get a free cartoon book


The Hell of white goods deliveries

Blog | By Timothy West | Jan 31, 2020

Vicious cycle – a washing machine in action. Credit: "September 20, 2017" by osseous is licensed under CC BY 2.0

As Timothy West and Prunella Scales step down from Great Canal Journeys, he bemoans the nightmare of waiting for a washing machine to be delivered

Our washing machine died and had to be replaced. We chose a replacement and awaited delivery to our Wandsworth house.

They had a query: ‘On the second floor? No lift?’

Afraid not. That meant a particular delivery team had to be rostered for the job. They said they’d be there on Monday.

On Thursday, I rang them.

‘You didn’t tell us you were on a red route. We can’t park.’

‘Well, it’s just a single red line. I’ll pay the fine if you get one, but I don’t think you will.’

‘No, we can’t risk it. It could be a court case.’

‘You could park round the corner.’

‘No, it’s too far with a heavy machine, and dangerous crossing a main road.’

‘OK. I think we’ll forget it.’

‘Sorry about that.’

A different washing-machine vendor said they understood and were happy to park in the driveway of the house opposite. I knew the occupant would not mind.

The agreed delivery day arrived. ‘That gateway’s too narrow, squire.’

I ran across the road with a tape measure. Then I went round the corner to measure the van, which was absolutely colossal. No way could it fit.

‘Why have you brought such a huge van – for our tiny washing machine?’

‘All our vans are the same size.’

‘I suppose there’s no chance of your stopping for three minutes outside our house?’

‘Not a hope. Far too big.’

On to contractor number three. This organisation delivered a new machine but failed to connect it.

I asked why.

‘It’s meant to be in a cupboard.’

‘The old one’s sat in an alcove with a shelf over it for 30 years. It’s never complained.’

‘But it’s near running water.’

‘I suppose it’s within yards of the nearest washbasin. Does that matter?’

‘Spilt water getting into the electrics.’

‘So you want me to actually build a cupboard round it?’

‘That would solve it.’


I now have to find a carpenter with the right van, who will turn up, park and climb two flights of stairs. Then at last I can have a clean shirt.