reels post

All about News

Hot News

Happy days down at the launderette – do you use one?

My friend and I would lug our bags of washing along the street and settle down for an hour or more. With its nicotine-stained walls and slatted wooden benches, it wasn’t the most comfortable, but it was lovely and warm, in sharp contrast to our freezing cold house.

It was always buzzing with life. People talk about supermarkets as breeding grounds for romance, but hours trawling around with a trolley is no substitute for an afternoon at the launderette. Where else are you likely to discover someone’s scary taste in underwear before the first date? Better to spot those novelty thongs before things progress too far.

Likewise, bedding can be a dead giveaway to someone’s personality. Black bedsheets and a Top Gear duvet cover is a warning sign like no other.

Of course it works the other way as well, and I was always conscious of exposing my tatty undergarments to other launderette users. I remember hastily grabbing a pair of once-white knickers that had seen better days, when they fell to the floor in front of onlookers. The only way to retrieve the situation was to pretend it was a hanky, blow my nose on them and stuff them in my pocket.

We always had fun at the launderette, whiling away the hours squirming at the real life stories of octogenarians and their toy boys, boob jobs gone wrong and bizarre love wrangles in the dog-eared magazines left there.

Years later, when my husband and I bought our first house, a tiny terrace, there wasn’t room for a machine but we were lucky to have a launderette on the street corner. Needless to say it didn’t take me long to get to know my neighbours. It was a hive of local tittle tattle and there was always a friendly shoulder to moan on.

I was saddened to learn recently that launderettes are disappearing fast – the victim of rising energy costs and more people owning washing machines.

In their heyday there were around 14,000 across the UK, often featuring in TV dramas and soaps. Now there are just 2,000 left. Bruce Herring, director of the National Association of the Launderette Industry, said that ageing machines are expensive to fix, but ‘the real killer’ was soaring energy bills.

It’s a great shame, but all may not be lost Earlier this year the Finnish self-service launderette company 24 Laundromat opened its third UK branch in Morrisons supermarket in Darlington after huge success at supermarkets in Blackburn and Peckham, South London.

Last year an outdoor launderette opened in a garage car park near my home. It’s well-used – it has a special machine for duvets which I intend using myself – but it isn’t quite the same. People drive up, stick in their laundry and come back later to collect it.

If that’s the case, surely others have a chance of survival?

Of course these new additions aren’t the same as the old-fashioned launderettes, with their steamed-up windows and smell of soap flakes; where people used to sit around and wait for their washing, drinking scalding hot liquid from the machine that just about passed as tea.

I have fond memories of sitting among others watching my trousers, skirts, knickers and socks swish back and forth and hoping my unsightly undies didn’t make their way to the front of the glass.

My friend and I used to look on with envy as people came in to collect a service wash. The assistant would hand over a neat parcel of fully laundered, neatly folded washing, while we would have to stuff our clothes and bedding into bin bags. And in all our visits we never met any potential partners.

Those were the days. Happy times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *