Reading Silver Tiger’s post with the alluringly alliterative title of Drips on a Drab day took me back to the working summers I spent in
during the early 2000s, where I used to stay with my father in his small
pensioner’s flat. As he didn’t have his own washing machine I used to take the
week’s laundry to the local launderette where I would ask for a “service wash”
meaning that the ladies who ran it would also load the machines and driers and
then iron the clean clothes while I was at work. Northampton
When commenting on this to acquaintances in
they almost invariably assume that the British must be grindingly poor if they
can’t afford their own washing machines. In fact, I cannot, offhand, say that
I’ve ever seen a coin-operated launderette in Spain . I
don’t deny that in some cases poverty might be the reason for their existence
in GB, but I feel that practicality also plays a part. Small flats and houses
mean that space is at a premium and so a large washing machine and the almost
obligatory tumble dryer might be too bulky for some homes. Most people probably
use the space more satisfyingly with a dog or cat basket and its corresponding
furry occupant. Seville
Although I used to ask for a service wash on weekdays, if I did the wash at a weekend I would invariably do it myself to let the whole sensorial experience – er – wash over me.
I love the smell of clothes being laundered. This might be a throwback to Monday washdays with my mother which were a very exciting event for a small child. These were the days before automatic washing machines and what we had was an enamelled tub filled with hot water from the geyser with an agitator at the bottom.
As the clothes swirled around the tub they could be pulled out with a large pair of wooden tongs and then passed through the mangle before being hung out on the line Later the mangle was made obsolete by a primitive manic spin-dryer that hopped across the floor, water spewing out of a chute arrangement at its base, water that the overturned bowl in the opposite corner of the kitchen would have collected had the spin-dryer not decided to go hopabout.
For me, going to a launderette therefore brings back the smells of those days, as well as providing me with an ever-changing array of conversational companions – indeed, at “Bubbles” in
freshly-brewed tea and coffee was on offer for a few pence. Northampton
Perhaps the launderette is to some extent replacing the disappearing pubs as the hub of an area’s social life and information exchange. Perhaps it always has been.
 There’s a beautiful anecdote about Yorkshire-born artist David Hockney and his mother. Being shown around Beverly Hills for the first time, and admiring all of those beautifully manicured lawns, she turned to her son and asked why, if it was such a nice sunny day, they hadn’t hung out the washing to make the most of the good weather.
 Proust had his madeleines, I have boiled sheets!