Hairy House

Hairy House

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

An Ode to Laundrettes

You think I joke, but I don't.
Since our washing machine is currently on the high seas at the moment we are having to use the local laundrette - and what a treat it is!
The last time I used a laundrette was when I was about six and I have always had fond, but vague memories of the experience, but assumed it was because of some random reason associated with chocolate or other forms of bribery.
However, the laundrette in Buckingham could almost be the same place as that 1970's temple of washing; one steps, from the biting cold, into the warm, well lit cosines of soap powder, the rhythmic swooshing of wet linen, the warm blasting of air from the tumble dryers.
A young mother, sorting out her basket of clothes - tiny socks and baby suits, all fluffy, sweet smelling and tumble warm. The two ladies who run the laundrette come over to help her:
"Oh look, he must have grown since I saw him, this suit would have swallowed him whole last month!"
The young mother pinks and smiles. "Oh yes, he's growing fast - putting on nearly a pound a week."
"Yes, I remember when my Jamie was that old...."
The light might be flickering from fluorescent bars overhead, the windows steaming and trickling onto the cracked linoleum floor, but we could easily be standing by the Ganges, beating our wet clothes against the rocks, squatting by the well in a dusty village, scrubbing our linen up and down a wash board in a steaming Dutch laundry. This is the timeless conversation of women throughout the world, throughout the ages, and there is something deeply comforting about it; something deeply comforting about the smoothing and folding of sheets, the satisfaction of piling a load of clean, sweet smelling laundry back into the bag, before setting out into the chill air again.
Even the man from Barbados: "Why on earth did you move back to England?" Pause for silent, heaving of laughter, where he is doubled up, slapping his legs, tears streaming down his face. "You must be regretting it now! Who would want to come back to this shit country? Hee, hee, hee, this country is going to the dogs!" Yes, even this, is a timeless, old-man-in-laundrette sort of conversation which finishes with us bidding each other a fond farewell when our washing is done, forever bonded over the sorting of our laundry.
In a few weeks our washing machine will be back, I will not have to venture out to Buckingham, every time we run out of clean knickers, but will be free to put on a load of washing whenever I feel like it. And by that time I will probably be all too happy to do so - but in the meantime, I am pondering what we miss when we have the convenience of our own machines in our own homes. Another part of our humanity withers in the face of progress.
Okay, that's probably a bit dramatic, but you know what I mean....

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