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There are few things in the world that can cause blind human panic like accidentally dropping your underwear on a launderette floor. It is one of those things that us British people cannot fail to be embarrassed about. Yet with the population ever increasing, more people than ever are quite literally washing their dirty laundry in public.
I’d never set foot in a launderette before I was a student, but by the end of my degree I’d become an expert in the unspoken ancient by-laws that govern these places. These aren’t ‘tips’ so to speak. More ethical and practical codes, silently passed down from generation to generation with nods, winks and tuts:
1. Have the exact change
2. Leave your basket on top of the drier
3. Never go on a Sunday afternoon (it’ll be packed!)
4. If you leave, make sure you time precisely the twenty minute wash cycle so you can get back before someone chucks your clothes in a manky old laundry bag.
This isn’t to say launderettes are unfriendly or intimidating places, in fact far from it. I lived in London. A particularly busy part of London. And it was often quite nice to go somewhere that was quiet and smelled nice. I can’t tell you how many books I managed to get through while waiting for my clothes to dry, and I even completed a whole essay at once.
However, launderettes are notorious mobile signal black spots, even if they’re bang in the centre of a lively city. I’m not sure what it is. The soap perhaps, or maybe there’s some sort of law that launderettes have to install a Faraday cage. The bottom line is you can forget about getting 3G. This can be quite a nice thing – it’s rare we get a chance these days to just sit and read or contemplate life without being distracted by screens.
Here’s to going to the launderette; the last of life’s secretly pleasurable chores.