Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
24 January 2019updated 09 Sep 2021 4:15pm

As Dyson heads to Singapore, Brexiteers should learn from the tragic demise of my vacuum cleaner

“How’s the Dyson?” friends would ask. “Oh fine”, I’d manage, looking away, changing the subject.

By Otto English

In 2001 my girlfriend and I moved in together and started to do the things you do when you first cohabit. We put up curtains, spent long, miserable hours at IKEA, and decided it was time to start talking about buying a vacuum cleaner.

As a young, tech-obsessed couple, there was only one choice.

In the early Noughties, Americans had Steve Jobs and his Apple Macs. The UK boasted vacuum cleaner whizz James Dyson and his DC07 plastic cyclone model.

We purchased one from John Lewis, and felt very pleased with ourselves indeed.

The Dyson DC07’s bag-free, root cyclone technology, which collected dust in a transparent tube, was the machine’s USP. Once full, you simply disconnected the container, carried it to a bin, emptied it out, and reassembled it once more. As Sir James patiently explained in television advertisements, this was far more convenient than dealing with the silly old dust bags that have afflicted domestic labour since the dawn of hoovering.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A weekly round-up of The New Statesman's climate, environment and sustainability content. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

I can still recall the excitement of tearing open the packaging, hoovering up the white polystyrene and watching it swirl like a snow globe in the transparent Dyson. We were free of the failing “hoover bag model”, finally able to intercept dust in corners that had been neglected for years.

Sure, the Dyson was a great deal more expensive than rival brands. But think of the cash we were saving on the bags. And anyway, the DC07 was about so much more than just money.

I would leave it casually lying around when friends came over. “Oh you’ve got a Dyson!”, they’d say, and more often than not I’d feel obliged to demonstrate it, chucking nuts on the floor and sucking them up.

Content from our partners
Cyber security is a team game
Why consistency matters
Community safety includes cyber security

But things gradually began to take a darker turn. First came the peculiar whirring sound that never stopped. I blamed myself. Had I not sucked up all of those cashews, this would have never happened. The DC07 was fine – it was me who was at fault for not believing in its root cyclone technology.

Then the brushbar jammed.

I took it apart. And when I finally put it back together two hours later, the brushbar was still jammed. So I resorted to Plan B; sequestering the Dyson into a cupboard, and reassuring my partner – and myself – that all was well.

And then it just stopped sucking.

“That does happen”, the man at the end of the Dyson hotline told me. “You may need to dismantle it and clean the filter.”

At this point, perhaps, doubts should have begun to creep in. But I doubled down. As the problems with my DC07 escalated, so did my commitment.

 “How’s the Dyson?” friends would ask.

“Oh fine”, I’d manage, looking away, changing the subject.

Some months later, as I sat trembling amidst filters and bits of hose splayed across the kitchen floor, my partner took me gently by the arm. “It’s enough now – we need to let it go”, she whispered gently.

And so I finally came to my senses. We drove it to the dump in New Cross and went out to buy a German replacement.

The Miele works like a dream over a decade later – despite the bags.

In the same period, Sir James Dyson has gone from supporting the Euro to backing Brexit; a rare breed in a world where most entrepreneurs are in favour of Remain.

It must have irked Leavers this week when Sir James announced that he, too, is leaving – to set up shop in Singapore. Perhaps as they try to comprehend his departure, Brexiteers will take succour from my DC07 white elephant – sold as a solution to a problem I never knew I had, which ended its days quietly forgotten on a municipal skip.