This year at the Edinburgh Fringe, the joke of the year was from Tim Vine: “I’ve decided to sell my hoover… well, it was just collecting dust.”
But that is not the biggest joke about vacuum cleaners this week. No, that would be the news that within the next ten days it will be illegal to purchase any hoover that has the sucking power to remove even a tenth of the dust laid down in even the average shag pile wall-to-wall carpet in a Tooting bedsit.
Under the banner of energy efficiency many of the best (read: most powerful) vacuum cleaners for sale in the UK will be illegal to purchase.
Of course, this is another attempt by the gnomes of Brussels, constantly searching for new ways to bedevil our lives, and of course it is all in the name of saving the environment. And it will, oh yes it will save the environment. It will save the environments of bedbugs, house mites, fleas and all those other little nasties, the ones that cannot be reached by Dettol. But it will not make a single jot of difference to the great global “fight” against climate change.
This is reminiscent of the War Office in 1940 ordering the destruction of every single railing in every single street in Britain, in order – not, as they said, to build Spitfires and battleships – but to make everybody feel that they are part of the fight. The railings, as we all know, ended up dumped in the English Channel; the railings, Victorian, Georgian, things of beauty and value were pointlessly destroyed in the name of the mutual fight against a mutual enemy.
Now, I am not suggesting that the Miele s8330, a snip at £300 (although no doubt set to go on fire sale soon) is a thing of great beauty or intrinsic worth. However, as my cleaner might attest, effective methods to achieve cleanliness are indeed of value, and I would agree a certain level of domestic hygiene is good for both physical and indeed mental health.
There are probably statistics to prove this nailed to the wall of a ninth floor office in the Department of Health; we know that we’re seeing significantly rising levels of Asthma and similar-such ailments in the UK. Dust perpetuates the symptoms and those in the know at Asthma UK advise sufferers: “Vacuum regularly and use a vacuum cleaner that has good suction”. And as my priest always says, “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
So this got me to thinking what other domestic appliances are for the chop? Where will the eyes of bureaucracy rest next? We know the Commission has already banned incandescent light bulbs, thus making life more difficult for the elderly and the poor of sight.
Will it be irons set permanently to only manage silk? Regimental Sergeant Majors up and down the country will launch a mutiny.
Will washing machines only ever muster the power to handwash at 30 degrees? One must forget about spin cycles.
Will kettles only ever be able to “boil” at sixty degrees centigrade (140 Fahrenheit)? We know our cousins on the Continent cannot make a decent cup of tea. This could be their revenge, for only fools burn themselves on modern kettles.
What fresh hell will pettifogging bureaucrats reap on hair straighteners? Toasters? Not to mention food blenders. I’ll be forced to find a new way to ingest kale.
When this was first proposed, vacuum entrepreneur Sir James Dyson launched a legal fight through the European Courts. The European Commission responded with absolutely no sense of irony.
“The whole point of the regulations is to go away from the idea that high power means better performance – which is not necessarily the case.”
Yes, Commissioner. You are correct. An organisation with enormous power certainly does not mean better performance in the slightest.