I remember, I remember……
There we were all few of us talking about pre-washing-machine days and launderette activities in a round then hanging out our words to dry, courtesy of a yellow washing line strung up across from one pillar to another in a yellow neon lit humid scented place. That launderette in Beulah Road, Walthamstow, by the Village nay in the Village, has been there for yonkses. Evidently when the long-time owner died her funeral cortege began from the very door of the laundry premises. She did live there, my research informs me! Today it’s a place of business and activity with a whole mix of people and languages.
This was a creative writing workshop, with the Big Society clingers-on possibly engaging with the community through reminiscence in a relevant but unusual venue. I believe it was all part of “Words Over Waltham Forest”. Not even a cuppa tea. I say that because we were there partly to reissue the notion that once upon a time launderettes were social hubs, vis á vis East Enders, Dot Cotton and action in a small room. And because a cuppa would have been a nice gesture for seniors who’d come together on a damp November morning from the neighbouring parish of Leyton to share memories and words.
It was a bish-bosh affair and we finished early after self-congratulation and much mobile photographing after we’d scribbled relevant words about laundry and starch and all of whatnot onto sweet-smelling and new ‘smalls’.
The two hours was too short a time in that we never really had time to mull over the words and let the flow begin. Knees aren’t the best desks either. Clipboards would have been useful. As a group we just imposed upon a neighbourhood space. It was interesting to see that the customers were in their own worlds and not even interested in what we were up to. Because washing is what it is, a chore to be done whether today or back in the fifties over the mangle. I never ever experienced launderettes as social hubs myself. East Enders ain’t real, Peggy!
Up Your Street subscribers were there. Which other outfit was promoting the free workshop from creative writing business professionals besides Up Your Street. The day was dank; the launderette was humming.
I enjoyed refreshing some phrases from back in the day, for example, clothes horse, line-prop, drying rack, drip-dry, top-loader, starched collars, and ” It’ll all come out in the wash”. Maggie reminded us of the story of The Magdalene Sisters and Fitzroy gave a great account of wash day in the West Indies.
Forgotten it all by the evening.