Spinning Stories

The Cleanest Clothes in The World by cqualmann
January 12, 2012, 11:06 am
Filed under: Contributions

My interest in launderettes has almost certainly come from my love of the 50s & 60s and although my local launderette has needed more than a coat of paint over the years it still very clearly embraces its past. It still has its original soap dispenser on the wall surrounded by some unbelievably cool posters. Stained pine paneling runs around the interior with a solitary fan buzzing in the corner.

It’s visually fantastic and ooze’s coolness and although glamorized by Hollywood I love the idea of perfect strangers talking to one another whilst they wait for their laundry.
Sadly I now have a washing machine at home so my trips to my local laundry service are limited but on the plus side my love of them has given me the perfect theme for my very own clothing brand……………

Phoenix Han’s Laundrette photos by cqualmann
January 11, 2012, 12:10 pm
Filed under: Contemporary Launderettes, Contributions

Han is a MA photography student at Newport, working on a documentary project focusing on the British launderette, he writes:

The laundrette is a classic British institution. I first noticed the launderette after I came to the United Kingdom. I found that local people would always take their dirty clothes to the laundry room for washing. Perhaps in China, there are no public laundry rooms and people are more used to wash their clothes with a washing machine at home, and generally, different kinds of clothes will be classified into washing underwear and outerwear separately. In addition, I knew that most British families have a washing machine. Therefore, initially, I am very curious about why people prefer to go to launderettes rather than wash at home. What kind of things will be laundered in launderettes? I asked the staff and customers about my questions when I went into the launderettes to practice this project. Apparently, different people have different answers. Some people answered that they need to wash some large things such as the beddings, so they have to wash in launderettes; some people said their washing machine was broken; and others responded that they will wash dirty clothes at home, and just dry at laundrettes because they have no way to drying at home.

The second reason, which encourages me to practice this project, is from the movie <My Beautiful Laundrette> (1985). It is a British film which mixed the racism and sexism issues and had caused considerable attention in the international film world. The story focuses on Omar, a young Pakistani man living in London, and his reuniting and eventual romance with his old friend, a street punk named Johnny. The two become the caretakers and business managers of a Laundromat originally owned by Omar’s parents, and a couple of lovers. This film made me have a strong interest in the launderette and inspired me to try to understand in the end what it looks like. What more exciting stories will be happen there? Or as the clip <The Launderette> demonstrates what lovely karma that brings for you: perhaps in launderette, people can experience the true love or create miracles.

Photos here:


Launderette encounters by cqualmann
September 12, 2009, 12:55 pm
Filed under: Contemporary Launderettes, Contributions, Laundry Stories, Storytelling, Transcripts

Well actually the first time in living memory or my living memory that I went to a laundrette was in Wood Green.  And I had just moved to London.  I had to walk a long, long way and this is winter so of course it was dark and I was quite afraid to be in London.  And I went into this laundrette on the estate.  It seemed to the only form of illumination.  Everything else was sulphury, orange street light and then this beacon of the laundrette.  And I went in and it was incredibly busy but it’s very, very aggressive.  And I was quite afraid of just even technologically figuring it all out, where to put the money, how the driers work.  And it really felt like walking into a real urban, and it shows you how green I was, a real urban garden but they weren’t delights just like grime and grit.

And there was old lady there and I was talking to her and I suppose I thought I was being nice trying to empathise.  And she was saying it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for them.  And I said who do you mean, and she kept talking them, they might come through the window at any time.  And there were some black kids in the launderette and she gestured towards them and then she said them, them, the blacks.  And I went through the rest of the ritual but my clothes as much as I could, tipped them back in the bag and I just vowed never to use a laundrette again.  And I didn’t.  I only would only get a service wash.  That is my story.

After that encounter the whole sum total of it, it just felt like it was too much of… but having said that there is one other story of the laundrette which was on Bethnal Green Road.  I was walking home drunk 20 years later and there was a man and his dog on a dirty blanket and a girl, like a punk girl sitting on the washing machine.  And I think there was another guy asleep on top of the machines while they were working wrapped up in a sleeping bag.  And I went in and I had a little party with them and we had a really good laugh.

Transcribed from an interview, August 2009

Tips for Tumble Drying by cqualmann
September 3, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Instructions and tips, Transcripts

Right. With your tumble drying you’ve obviously got to remember to find the dryer that’s currently being used – because that’s the one that’s going to be the hottest – and wait for it. And even if that means waiting five, ten, fifteen minutes it’s going to save you time in the long run and it’s going to save you money.

Obviously when it’s on a mixed load of washing you have to make sure that you put the lighter stuff in first because that will dry really quickly. Then the bigger stuff, like the towels you put in afterwards because otherwise the water, the moisture will transfer onto the lighter garments and mean that it’s constantly wet and never dries.

Transcribed from an interview on 2nd August 2009

Leaking Machines by cqualmann
September 3, 2009, 2:41 pm
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Stories, Transcripts

One of my more recent laundry stories is that living in my flat obviously I have neighbours beneath and above.  And my neighbour above has a washing machine that periodically leaks into my flat.  And this happened for the first time about a year ago.  Water comes through the ceiling and drips onto the floor and onto the cooker and onto the worktops in the kitchen.  So I tried to correspond with him over this and he was always “very sorry, it won’t happen again.”  And this happened like four/five/six times and I was absolutely at my wits end just trying to deal with the council to intervene and stop it from happening and trying to communicate with him.  It was very distressing actually and it really confirmed in my mind that people shouldn’t have washing machines at home in blocks of flats because they do leak even if you’re not stoned and you don’t fall asleep it can still happen.  And they should go to the launderette, because it washes things better and it takes the noise away from the home and the risk of leaks.  So I’m still considering mounting a Stage 2 complaint with the council because I’m not satisfied with the response to my Stage 1 complaint.  But so far so good, there’s been no more leaks and as far as I understand the washing machine has been completely disabled.  But I’ll really only believe it’s over when I see it’s leaving the flat.

Transcribed from an interview at the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, 30th July 2009

Laundry and washing in Medieval Winchester by cqualmann

There’s a contrast in the attitude in medieval Winchester between laundry and personal hygiene and washing.  We know there is one of the first recorded fines for an environmental offence in Winchester when a washer woman was took to court on very wealth man called John De Tytyng for animal offal and other nasty things in one of the open brooks which endangered her livelihood as a washer woman.  And amazing enough her case was upheld… and John De Tytyng this very, very wealthy man, was fined and told to desist from putting pollutants in the brooks because it was seriously effecting this woman’s livelihood as a washer woman.

Now contrast this with what we know about bath houses in medieval Winchester which were regarded as basically a bathhouse was euphemism for a place of ill repute.  Why else would you go somewhere and take your clothes off.  There were several bathhouses but they had to be, because of their bad reputation, outside the town walls.  They were areas of ill repute so by contrast where the open brooks were kept clean so you could do your laundry or have a washer woman do your laundry, personal bathing was a bid odd, somewhat perverse and had to be kept outside the walled area.

Transcript from an interview with Ken Qualmann at the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, 10th August 2009

Launderette by Sabrina Mahfouz by cqualmann
August 9, 2009, 9:58 am
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Stories
The sweet chemical scent
of nature
bouncing fabric via drum beats
of forever

The peeling 
cardboard ceiling 
can't hide 
the dust-heavy 
that lead 
the way 
to a padlocked 
door and days 
they were given 
and no,
the laundry 
with the blue
doesn't work 
here anymore.

The foaming, funny smell
of people
whispering words and promises
of forever