Spinning Stories


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

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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 philosophy by cqualmann
August 4, 2009, 11:14 am
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Stories, Transcripts

It wasn’t exactly overhead.  It was half directed to me, a conversation between the launderette lady and another very old local lady that was in there.  They were, I don’t know, they must have been in their 70s.  The lady that lives near me near Murray Grove, and she had been away for a week or so and I’d gone to do my laundry.  And then she was saying there was a shooting just outside the shop.  Somebody was killed the other day just outside the shops over there and they were talking about it.  And then she started going on and on but what was the matter anyway, it was just a bit of piss and blood and vomit anyway.  That’s what makes the world go round and I thought that was…

Interviewer:            a bit of philosophy.

Respondent:            Yeah, wisdom.

Transcribed from an interview, August 2009



The decline of the launderette by cqualmann

There’s this launderette on Mare Street or maybe it’s still Cambridge Heath Road, and I never went there but I always used to drive past in the bus.  And I noticed how there’s a line of 10 washing machines, or may be two lines, I can’t remember, but it was quite big.  And some of them would always have this little paper on them saying out of order, not working, out of order.  Every time I went past there would be more, and in the end all of them had this sad little out of order sign – there was like 20 washing machines at least – all out of order. Now it’s closed.

Transcribed from an interview, August 2009



Laundry talk by cqualmann
August 2, 2009, 5:00 pm
Filed under: Contributions, Laundry Stories, Storytelling, Transcripts

Well I’ve used the launderette here in various different ways.  I’ve done my laundry here a lot and I find it very good because it only takes 45 minutes and it washes very thoroughly.  But at the moment what I’m doing is is doing my laundry at my friend’s house nearby because it’s free to use his machine.  The downside with that is that the cycle takes an hour and a half, an hour and 45 minutes.  But what we do is either I go round and we talk and have a cup of tea for an hour and half and yesterday as my washing was on we spent about half an hour talking about planning issues because we’re both very involved in objecting to planning applications that we think are damaging to the estate.  That’s something we really care about.  And the other hour talking about online dating and whether we could face doing a profile of ourselves or whether speed dating was a better alternative as we’re both single.

The other option that happens when I do my laundry there is that I just take it round and leave it and my friend does it all for me. Basically including folding but… well he does get something out of his as he’s made it quite clear that he fancies me and that this is the closest he’s ever been to get to my underwear.  Something in it for both us.

Transcribed from an interview at the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, August 2009