We don't have a local laundrette so I'd rung a dry cleaner's in Sheffield and they'd quoted me £16.99 and a two week turnaround.
Dave was horrified “That’s ridiculous!” he said. “They don’t know what to charge! I’ll wash it myself.”
“But it’s a double one. It won’t fit in the machine. Really Dave, please don’t bother.”
“I know! I’ll do it in the fun tub!” The fun tub is a huge plastic tub - three feet across and three feet deep – of the kind that builders generally use for rubble, and which Dave uses for DIY. But it was languishing in the shed stuffed with used plastic cartons which Dave said would one day “come in useful.”
“It’s fine, Dave. Really,” I said. “I’ll take it to the cleaners.”
“I’m not going to be defeated. I’ll do it in the bath. That’s more commodious and it has running hot water. Better than the fun tub!”
He swung the duvet into the bath and turned on the taps, but the duvet behaved like an enormous sponge and soaked up every drop of water. He couldn’t swish it around to make a washing motion, and had to bend right over and pummel the thing. It was like wrestling with an alligator, though Dave looked less like the hero in Crocodile Dundee and more like an also-ran in a wet T-shirt competition.
Even when rinsed and squeezed, the duvet was so heavy that he found it hard to pick up. He had to bundle it up and clutch it to his chest like those contestants in The Strongest Man in the World competition, who stagger for a hundred yards carrying a boulder as big as a buffalo.
He planned to go down the stairs with it, through the open front door, and outside to the washing line. But he slipped just two steps from the bottom, lurched forwards into the wall, squeezing the duvet and depositing a couple of gallons of water on the hall floor.
Eventually he got the duvet outside and edged it bit by bit over the washing line, which then swooped grasswards in a giant parabola, though miraculously the trees to which it was tied remained rooted.
It was February. You can imagine how long it took to dry.