Whizzing up and down with the vacuum cleaner in the morning, I honestly had no idea that I was, possibly single-handedly, slaughtering the last few polar bears on Earth. Cycling to work, recycling everything else, eating no meat, I thought I was doing my bit for global warming. And then I blew it – well, sucked it, actually – by pushing the Hoover round.
News last week that an EU ban on cleaners with motors above 1,600W comes into force within days had even the most diffident householder dashing protectively towards the bear-slayer in the understairs cupboard. No more, the comforting tug of roller brush on carpet once the high-powered appliance has become extinct: in its place, a sluggish, futile skimming and a posse of fat, happy mothlings, dancing all the way to your only cashmere jumper. Basic hygiene must give way, even while, I kid you not, there are four-wheel-drive cars in the road outside my house, all ready to rev up for the perilous journey to Threadneedle Street. And all because an EU energy consumption label will make it illegal to make or import vacuum cleaners with a bit of poke.
Cue a black market in Brands Hatch-grade cleaners. Pushing a vacuum cleaner will take on a whole new meaning, as the Miele S6210 cylinder and the 2000W Panasonic upright are traded like class A drugs. The foresighted will panic buy, and hoard, and stash souped-up models into the self-same under-bed space they are designed to detoxify.
There is a dilemma for the dedicated European who has rejected as tosh stories about straight bananas, cucumbers and rhubarb, and who thinks that shared law-making is, in essence, the route to world peace. But… the interior design of most EU countries does not favour Axminster twist pile, preferring, on grounds of cleanliness, aesthetics or availability of cheap, local materials, to walk on stone, ceramic or wood. And very nice too, if the temperature never drops below 20C, or if your house was not built before Victoria's diamond jubilee, or if you raise your family in quite a small flat because your other home is somewhere palatial up in the hills and you only eat at restaurants. This is not the British way of life. The British way of life is founded on underlay.
Soothing James Dyson says that vim is not the only measure of performance (and by 2017 the power allowed drops to 900W). Indignant Which? says five of its recent top seven cleaners will fall foul of the new law. I say, hands off my Hoover as long as more trivial devices are a drain on the national grid, among them the Wii U, whatever that is, electric razors and televisions the size of Centre Court. When the last car has been scrapped and the last plane grounded, I will throw in my lot with a weedy, snivelling 900W. Until then, I'm stockpiling machines and buying bags like other women buy, um, bags.
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