Thursday 5 August 2021


In my patch of neighbourhood, laundry is not a dull or mindless task. It is dependant on the weather because nobody has a dryer. You can tell because on sunny days every back garden has darks, brights and whites hanging or flapping on the clotheslines. 

B.A. has a theory that once upon a time, when all the buildings belonged to the Council (e.g. local government), the back gardens were one vast drying green. This thought is not farfetched; most neighbourhoods like ours have drying greens, and not private gardens. The point is not the green grass (or hard concrete) underfoot but the plastic-coated wire above. Energy bills are expensive.  

Our washing machine is small, but I try to keep loads to three a week: whites, darks, brights. These days it is usually Benedict Ambrose who fills up the big blue Ikea bag with wet clothes and hangs them up outside. It's a task I enjoy, though, as I like pinning them up in a logical order, using the most economical number of pegs--except for socks. I like every sock to have its own peg. It is also social, not only because neighbours come out to say hello, but because I can see all the neighbouring laundry.

It is usually B.A. these days who takes them down, too. I like this task less because I find the wrinkles depressing. 

Last weekend I went to the closet and packed three bags full of old clothes, two for the charity shops and one for recycling. After 16 months of a pandemic, there were many, many clothes I had not worn for a year, one of the rules of thumb for wardrobe-thinning. There were some sad good-byes: a green corduroy jacket, a blue evening bag, a funny 40th birthday gift (see above), a grey-blue gown with poppies and other field flowers embroidered all over the gauzy front layer. I never actually wore this dress anywhere, and it is a happy accident that I did not wear it to Polish Pretend Son's wedding because Polish Pretend Daughter-in-Law's reception dress was embroidered with poppies and other field flowers. But mine was the prettiest dress I never wore, and packing it in a bag felt like shutting a door on--what? A younger, thinner, more embroidered self probably. 

The reward for divesting myself of all this cloth was more space in the closet, an empty small suitcase and a nearly empty large suitcase.  I could have pruned harder--and ideally I would like the minimalist wardrobe of a navy blue nun--but the thought of getting rid of any cardigan that did not actually have holes in the elbows made me strangely nervous. 

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