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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The London Laundry update; I change history

Since arriving at the London office, I have been absolutely bombarded with e-mails asking me about my laundry.* How is it? Have I been doing it?

Like many of you, I have an absolute fascination with the English washing machine. I used to be so threatened by the washing machine in my London apartment that there is a picture of me attacking it with a knife. I even wrote about English washing machines in 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I can’t get them off my mind.

So today, we are going to take a walk through Maureen’s London Office Landry extravaganza. Are you ready?

(This is a good time for me to point out something that is generally not okay . . . namely, going to a foreign country and then complaining about things that are not like the things we know at home. This is not like that. This is me showing Fear and Respect.)

Like I have discussed before in Fancyworld, Europe (which includes England) is miles and miles ahead of the United States in quite a number of technological developments. And like I said, I live in New York, where running water is practically a novelty. (Unless it is coming from my wall, which is does sometimes. That is not a novelty. That is a tragedy.) My apartment is way too unstable for a washing machine, not that I would have anywhere to put it if I did get one. I am hardly the exception—it’s very rare to have a washing machine in your apartment in NYC. You go to the laundromat. They are everywhere, and they have big, tough machines that do your wash in about 20 minutes by using scalding water and terrible brute force. They sound like they should be screaming in German accents as they spin:


A typical New York laundromat, 2006

The London office, along with its many bells and whistles, has a high-tech washing machine/dyer. Oh yes. It does both. When it is done washing, it turns itself into a dryer. It is nothing short of magical.

But it does, and I will admit this, take a really long time. A really long time.

But first! Let’s see where we’re at!

The magical washing machine. It lives in the kitchen, where it regularly receives offerings of fruit, wine, baked goods, and toasters. All bow down.

The chronology:

Noon: One small pile of warm-water wash is put into the machine along with one detergent pack. I start doing things and forget that I want to track the progress of the machine until . . .

1:15 Rinsing has been going on for some time now.

1:30: The floor is shaking so hard from the spin-rinse that my entire body is vibrating. I am not kidding. It feels like airplane turbulence.

1:45: Still rinsing. The terrible shaking stopped for a while, but has just kicked up again. This computer is trembling.

2:00: We have moved into final rinse. There is a quiet peacefulness to this stage. I feel that it is a time of healing.

2:08: Thumping, thumping, thumping. Scary spinning now. Is it a washing machine or a particle accelerator? Am I splitting atoms?

2:15, April 12th, 1776: It was splitting atoms, and it has somehow sent me back in time. (Don’t ask me how. Something to do with quantum physics.) I find myself in Britain at the time of the American Revolution. I am stealing army plans to smuggle back to the United Sates and give to General Washington. I cannot believe this is happening. No time to talk.

2:20, April 12th, 2006: Back. The machine is much more quiet again. Thanks to my efforts, we defeat the British. I am glad to see that they do not harbor any bad feelings. Very tired now and still covered in 200 year old mud. Peeved to notice that I do not appear in any textbooks or on Wikipedia.

2:25: Oh no! Oh no! Not the spinning!

2:26, April 12th, 1912: Deck of Titanic. THIS BOAT SINKS IN TWO DAYS! GET ME OUTTA HERE! Must warn of iceberg. Must warn of iceberg. Where is the captain?

2:30, April 12th, 2006: Found myself on floor of London office, clutching ice cube. Rushed to computer to see if my warning was heeded. Sadly, no. Titanic still sinks on April 14th. Not even a mention of the girl who ran around the decks screaming about icebergs. Typical.

2:35: Drying. Oh, thank you. Thank you.

We’ll stop here for now. Watch for updates on this fascinating and ever-evolving story!

*Such an obvious lie it feels deeply unnecessary to point out that it is one. There have been fifty at most. Maybe a hundred. That’s hardly a bombardment. And I think a third of those were really about dry cleaning.