As much as he moved the vacuum cleaner back and forth over and over again across the living room floor, the dust and fluff and bits of twig gathered there obstinately refused to be sucked up from the floor and into the belly of the machine. “Here, you must be doing it wrong,” his wife grabbed the cleaner from him and within a few seconds had cleared the floor of dirt. As she stamped out of the room the cat regarded him smugly from his curled repose on the comfiest of their armchairs. He glared at the cat and the cat closed its eyes. He wouldn’t be surprised if the cat had something to do with this.
Later, when he found the cat sleeping soundly on top of the vacuum cleaner, he knew they were in league. He waited a week, carefully monitoring the cat’s movements and then, on Saturday morning when the cat was out of the house, he took the vacuum cleaner to the tip and dumped it in. On his return he took a relaxing bath, away from cats and vacuum cleaners and the awkward social and technological dilemmas of modern life. Just him and the bubbles and steam. When he got out of the bath he found that the cat had vomited in one of his shoes and pissed in the other. “Where’s my vacuum cleaner?” asked his wife.
He wore his slippers to go to the electrical appliance shop. “And what kind of vacuum cleaner are you looking for today?” asked the kindly old lady. He explained that he just wanted a normal one please and she showed him through a range of compact, multi-limbed, octopus—esque machines. They all seemed to be gobbling up dust in a thoroughly efficient way but something wasn’t quite right. It took him a while to work it out but eventually it hit him – it was the smell. They didn’t have the fust-musty drone smell that vacuum cleaners usually came with.
“But dearie, that’s how they all smell nowadays, these new digital ones.” He hadn’t particularly wanted a digital one. He asked her if they had any normal ones, just something to suck all the dust and dirt up off the floor, that was all he wanted. “Oh dear,” the lady sighed. “You obviously heard about the switchover. Soon, all the dust will be digital. Your analogue cleaner will be useless.” Half an hour later he struggled out of the shop with a new digital vacuum cleaner which had cost five times more than he had expected. It had eight appendages for different types of dirt and some of them were so long that he had to leave them flopping out of the car window.
When he got home he unpacked the new vacuum cleaner and left his wife to have a look whilst he went to run a bath. He found the cat sprawled in the tub, a dead rabbit bleeding into the plug hole. He sighed and made his way back downstairs to find his wife struggling with the complex digital cleaner. There were dark red stains all across the floor. “Do you know if rabbit’s blood is digital?” she asked. “Or analogue?”