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Updated: Jan 20

I have quite a thing for laundrettes.

I will never own a tumble dryer and I keep pound coins in the one above my knicker drawer for the days when I forget to bring the washing off the line and its rained. Or find it still lying wet in the drum. There is really no task like one you can do sitting down, reading a book or daydreaming.

In 2002 I lived in a little apartment off Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles. There was nothing glamorous about it. As with many American households, we had no laundry facilities in the apartment so every week we’d drive the Dodge over to Launderland just a few minutes away.

What I love about laundrettes is that, wherever you are in the world, most feel sort of the same: a freshly laundered smell, the heat from the dryers, a whirlpool of smalls spinning round and round, the white noise of motors.

In LA I would sit cross-legged and read. Or earwig conversations I couldn’t understand in Spanish and Portuguese. Smile sympathetically at fidgeting children.

And I love folding. I love watching people do the dance they do when they fold something together, like a duvet cover. A sort of waltz. There’s a word for two people folding but I lost it in the ether somewhere.

Usually, they are yellowing time machines. Typography from the 70s and bossy, dog-eared signs peeling off in the heat. They are full of characters and little stories unfolding.

It’s a lot for your £2… or $5… or wherever you are doing your laundry on planet earth. It’s community and it saves on your energy bills too.

So if you ever need a holiday but you only have £2 above your knicker draw, take a stroll to the laundrette. Take a book. And watch all of life play out around you.

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