My washing machine broke down recently. So what, you might ask, especially if you are one of those people who likes to begin Friday mornings with an aggressive question or two. But wait. The washing machine of a friend who lives two thousand kilometres away packed up too. Getting interesting, what? But you ain’t heard nothing yet.

Ditto my television set, and it took with it my back too. I mean, I attempted to check the profusion of wires, and while twisting myself into a pretzel in the cause of clear (and visible) images on TV, threw my back. Ditto my friend’s television.

One breakdown is a coincidence, but two can only be the coronavirus, as Oscar Wilde nearly said. Lockdowns meant that TV and washing machine fixers – those kind souls who take one look at your gizmos and tell you it’s time to get new ones – were in short supply. My friend bought himself one of those thingies you hold some inches away from a passing forehead to check if a person has or had or will soon have Covid-19. Then he called a repairman, checked his numbers and decided it was safe to let him in.

I was about to do the same when another friend called, and mentioned casually that his television set was on the blink and likewise his dishwasher.

And then it struck me. The revenge of the machines was afoot. And it was well co-ordinated to cause maximum damage at a time while our attention is focused elsewhere. Perhaps we had treated them badly, perhaps we had overworked them, maybe we had spoken disparagingly of them within their earshot. Whatever the reason, they were now showing us who was the boss.

The television is vital for news, live sports and old movies. All of these – except live sports because there isn’t any – are just as easily watched on the phone. Sadly, phones can’t wash clothes or do the dishes. This is one aspect of phone evolution that has been ignored by androids and those other folk. Imagine the cheers he will get if at their next televised (or phoned) product launch, one of them were to say, “This brand new model YUIOP (a name taken from the top row of the keyboard) can wash clothes, and not just that, your days of depending on dish washers are over too.”

The Nobel Prize for peace – which is what they will be bringing to humanity – is assured.

Meanwhile, I have stopped changing my clothes, and have begun to overwork my phone. What happens when phones go on strike? That – say whatever you want about the pandemic – might be the end of civilisation as we know it.

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