Dot: Hello gentlemen, what can I do for you? Dizzee: The Bow Massive is in the house, innit. Dot: Ooh I say! (lights up another fag) Dizzee: Can me put me Mercury Music award up here on the shelf next to the detergent? Dot: You'll all be wanting those baggy hooded tops machine-washed, ironed and folded, I bet. Dizzee: Nah grandma, grime is where it's at. Dot: Don't you dare stand on that spin drier young man. Mr Papadopolous will be furious! Dizzee: I'm just a rascal. Fix up, look sharp. Dot: You don't scare me with your clever words, you young rap scallion. Dizzee: We is taking over your launderette. We is gonna hang out in here all day and play well banging tunes. Dot: "Thou shalt not hang out all day and play well banging tunes in the house of the washerwomen" - Proverbs chapter 14 verse 11 Dizzee: Oh alright then. Just a service wash please.
As you might expect in a poverty-stricken neighbourhood, we're well blessed for launderettes round here. The one you can see in the photo is my local, a welcoming place despite the smell of detergent and the harsh strip lighting. It's run by Lil, a hassled lady in a pinny, not quite Dot's age but just as helpful. She gossips, she mops the floor and she'll iron your shirts if you fork out a little extra. Her launderette is a little palace. The tops of the washing machines are covered by a jungle of well-watered pot plants. Paintings of sheep (and other rural idylls) hang from a fake marble wall. And a row of old brown leather chairs by the door makes a cosy place to sit while you wait for the spin cycle to finish. As I remember.
All this is in sharp contrast to The Powder Room, the other launderette across the road on Bromley High Street. This is a much more utilitarian facility, just a white shell housing two rows of machines separated by an empty gangway. The building is open 24 hours a day, which probably explains why it's become the chosen hangout for gangs of hooded local youths. Not that they frighten me or anything, but I've noted the two security cameras pointing at the door and I've read the police warning notice stuck to the window, so I keep away.