Vac’s a lot...

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

Nowadays I seem to be forever seeing adverts for the latest wonder of the age as in the humble, as was, vacuum cleaner no less.

It now appears to have super star status mainly due to the ever rising prices and their amazing capabilities although how many folk actually use these capabilities is debateable with some looking like weapons from a ‘Star Wars’-type film.

If it’s not constantly in your face as in adverts on hoardings, newspapers, magazines and the unintentionally hilarious ‘shopping channels’ on the flat screen wonder plus even in the cinema, you are no longer safe either from the constant bombardment of these wonders.

In fact I note that one well known shopping catalogue firm devotes over 30, yes 30, pages to numerous vaccy cleaners in assorted breeds and models ranging from the mains operated to the rechargeable, cordless models.

The shopping channel is my favourite as the comedy is amazing. One presenter or the anchor person butts in at every moment he can as the demonstrator is explaining how it works etc and says that magical word ‘phenomenal’ even just switching it on, never mind the ‘free’ crevice tool and other bits which are also ‘phenomenal’ and this goes on for an hour.

To be fair I do visit the loo at half time, before getting back to hear that the suction is, well, ‘phenomenal’ and believe it or not (I mentally choose ‘not’) he was so enthralled by this item, (update: over half the stock has now gone) he brought one himself the last time they flogged ’em but based on other devices he has also brought, his house must look like an electrical warehouse but then again, that’s ‘phenomenal’.

We have come a long way in some respects as it’s not going back all that long ago that there was perhaps a choice of a dozen or so in various forms such as the traditional upright, perhaps downright and the thing you dragged around ‘on its own cushion of air’ or the thing that looked like part of a navy diver’s back pack plus hose and crevice tool – must not forget your crevice tool – that made up the whole shebang.

My mum, she of the people for the people, with stunts by arrangement, had an amazing time with a then-door to door vacuum cleaner salesman, which you don’t see these days and one assumes their demise was brought upon by assorted electrical stores and shopping catalogues etc offering the same in the ‘grab the loot n suck the dust’ trade so to speak but today we would call perhaps ‘phenomenal’.

She had this most talkative salesman, well no he said he wasn’t actually a salesman but a ‘demonstrator’ no less and mum asked, if this was the case, why was he not in Trafalgar Square with a placard protesting about the current upset to wave with all the others from Rent-a-Demo and he replied he was not that sort of demonstrator.

However, joy of great joys, although he wasn’t (tut, tut) a salesman, she could ‘still order’ one of his products if she was so impressed and he felt she would be, although at this point perhaps in his training session he had not come across my mum of course.

Silly questions uttered forth. Was her present model cleaning as well as it should be he asked? Mum said she had no idea as she never spoke to it but all she did was to just switch it on and it did what she bought it for, clear the dust and suchlike up.

Salesman Sid or Demonstrator Dan then told her all the virtues of the model he was demonstrating, not selling you understand, just demonstrating and could he show her?

This minor marvel was done and after a mind numbing performance of telling her which was the cleaner and which was the hose and nozzle (crevice tools were an extra option and cost more of course) and the handy carry handle as he then poured what looked like bird seed all over the floor with my mum asking if he sold or demonstrated budgies as well but he reassured her this was part of the demonstration.

He tapped the switch on the cleaner and away he went, with it sucking all the bird seed up and true it did it okay as it wasn’t heavily ground in or anything near it – much like the shopping channel mind-number – and he explained that this was to highlight its power and mum asked if her dirt was not good enough then?

His response was quite ahead of the time really, up there with the legendary British Rail ‘leaves on the line’ howler but in this case he said: “You don’t have the right sort of dust, my dear” and mum not far behind in this performance asked him where could she get some of this ‘right sort of dust’ from and how dear was it?

I will point out his sudden departure was swifter than his arrival as mum guided him to the door after that last nugget of intellectual information.

The silly side to this was mum was quite impressed with the results, even though we had not got ‘the right sort of dust’ and so she looked around assorted electrical shops and showrooms in town to see if she could get one that was the same but different and luck was on her side as there in the local Co-op was a similar model.

On inquiring, it was reduced in price as they were having a ‘mammoth sale’ (to those of you who are not conversant with the mammoth, it’s much like an elephant in size if reports are to be believed, plus bigger tusks and is covered in hair or fur so perhaps a good vacuum cleaner might come in handy) and the salesman, not demonstrator, pointed out that it was so powerful that it could “suck the underwear off a camel at 30 paces, madam” and mum asked if the camel was male or female because if it was male, there is more to go at.

The deal was done and they also delivered it for free as well and it lasted for quite a few years in use, despite her not finding where she could buy the ‘right sort of dust’ from.

The tricky question is which is the ‘best’ model to go for and one little dodge I learnt from a friend who was manager of our then local Recycling and Environmental Collection and Reclamation Centre, or the tip. He suggested I walked through the electrical items stacked up ready to go for recycling and note which make or manufacturers products were there in large quantities, and this would give an indication of the ones to avoid and this also worked for washing machines as well as the local tip, sorry, the Recycling and Environmental Collection and Reclamation Centre was their graveyard in a sense or perhaps even ‘phenomenal’?