WHEN I was a child, I was afraid of the tumble dryer. Not an all-consuming phobia – more of a general distrust, as if the offending appliance wasn’t an immediate threat but a vaguely malign presence in the corner of the kitchen. When it rumbled into life I would adopt a low voice like a child from a horror movie, glower at it and mutter: “Tum-bel-DRYER.” This led my auntie to believe that I was in fact communing with a particularly unimaginative spirit that had chosen to manifest itself as a white good.
This dislike of appliances has continued into adulthood. I have no tum-bel-DRYER and the washing machine is used as a last resort. So why am I about to write about a vacuum cleaner in this column, which is usually devoted to the kind of shiny, bleepy products that cavemen would have worshipped as gods?
Well, as a teenager, I remember two close friends almost coming to blows over who had the best vacuum cleaner (the moral of this story is, of course, that I had chosen the wrong friends). They both had a Dyson.
And, after putting the Dyson DC44 through its paces, I can kind of, almost, understand why. The hand-held, rechargeable unit looks a bit like a futuristic self-pleasure device, all smooth curves and metallic tubing.
For something so light (2.3kg), it can certainly suck. On a test under the cushions of my sofa (conveniently gathering grime since I moved in over two years ago) it fared only slightly worse than my trusty old Henry (who had, alas, rolled over onto his side like a disoriented drunk by the end of the experiment, his smiley face turned into a melancholy frown).
And the best part is, the DC44 stores all your household detritus in a clear box so you can gage just how much of a dirty little beast you are. You can let the dust linger in your home until it is swimming in muck before sucking it all up and examining it. Freud would have had a field day.
Another test involved clearing out all the ghastly, twisted arachnids that hang out around the edges of my ceiling – the kind with tiny raisin bodies and long, gangly legs. Most of them disappeared into the mass of hair and crumbs that had gathered in the filth box, but one was pressed against the clear plastic, peering angrily out, plotting its terrible revenge.
The DC44 is further proof that Dyson is the Apple of the home appliance world. Vacuuming ceases to be a chore – it’s more like a sub-game from Kinect Sports: a short diversion before you get back to playing the main title. Don’t expect me to start reviewing tumble dryers, though.