AN open-air laundrette, eh? So much for not washing your dirty linen in public.
Squinter’s told the facility in the car park of the Shaws Road shops is already proving very popular, with a colleague reporting a queue when he drove past a couple of days after the machines were installed.
Squinter used to use a laundrette when he was a student living in bedsit hell land back in the early 80s and what he remembers most about it – without revealing more than absolutely necessary – is that it was a good place to meet girls. Squinter likes to imagine that he fell easily into any number of conversations with female students because he was a young Greek god, but the truth, looking back as a middle-aged man, is probably more likely to be that women were intrigued and perhaps even moved by the rare sight of a male engaged in dreary domestic duties.
Squinter’s the best sewer and stitcher in the house – all the women in his life will readily testify to that undeniable truth. He can iron almost as well as his mother. He cooks well, does the dishes and even scrubs the hob and pan supports after he’s finished. But he has never mastered the art of the domestic washing machine. The laundrette was totally idiot-proof – getting money from a hole-in-the-wall is more complicated. But these new-fangled machines, the ones that you don’t even know are turned on as they whisper away in the garage, leave him flummoxed.
And so he’s gone through his life without ever having done a wash in the house. He’s tried a couple of times, but gave up for fear of flooding the place or putting the detergent in the wrong slot. The recent purchase of the whispermaster piqued his curiosity and sent him back to examine the controls, but he retired with some alacrity when the lights started flashing and the beepers started beeping.
Could be worse. Any handyman worth his salt knows that inside every washing machine is a rather heavy lump of concrete. It’s there to stabilise the thing when it’s on spin cycle. Squinter’s brother has a mate (don’t they all?) who decided to fit a new washing machine himself and in the instruction booklet he read the order ‘Remove packing materials from drum’. This directive referred to the angular pieces of polysterene wedged in there to stop the free-moving drum getting knocked about in transit. They’re easily pulled out by hand.
Unfortunately yer man not only removed the polysterene, he then took a hammer and bolster to the concrete block and in ten minutes had removed the thing entirely. He stood proudly aside to let his missus do the first wash and everything went perfectly until the spin, at which point the machine set off for Twinbrook.
The good news is he caught it at Finaghy. Squinter’s left wondering after the opening of the open-air laundrette, who doesn’t have a washing machine in this day and age? Plenty of people out there with not much money, of course there is, but even so, Squinter had been under the impression that the vast majority of homes had the basics of TV, microwave, fridge, oven, washing machine and sunbed.
Clearly he’s been labouring under a misapprehension. It can only be a matter of time before the sunbeds are open-air too.
Coulda, woulda, Veda – bakery makes amends
AFTER last week’s sad tale of the holey Veda, Squinter finds himself doubly blessed when he arrives back in the office after lunch on Monday. Or should that be doubly blest?
For the good folks at Sunblest were good enough to courier Squinter a bag of goodies to make up for the deep trauma he suffered when he went to make himself a bit of cheese on Veda only to discover a hole the size of the Channel Tunnel in the malt loaf.
After Squinter outlined his travails (ie whinged at some length) in last week’s paper the company sent a nice cotton shopping bag in which there was not one Veda but two, as well as a sizeable hunk of Coleraine mature cheddar, a tub of Golden Cow Easispread, a packet of Punjana teabags and a Sunblest-branded lunch box.
The only fly in the butter was the note inside the box containing Squinter’s address, which Sunblest put down as ‘Teach Basil, 2 Hannahstown Hill, Belfast, United Kingdom’. Kudos for the Teach Basil bit, but while Squinter wouldn’t expect the East Belfast bakers to put down ‘Occupied Six North Eastern Counties’, you might think they’d at least put ‘Northern Ireland’.
No matter. One of the Vedas has already been dispatched as Squinter writes – toasted with the Golden Cow and Coleraine cheddar and washed down with a mug of Punjana tea, if you must know, and the only holes that Squinter saw were in the teabags. Which suggests that the holey loaf was a one-off, or at least part of a rogue batch, and that Sunblest have total faith in their product because the loaves were intact and nobody had cut them open to check for faults. Of which there was none.
In fact, the Veda was as good as Squinter remembers it when he first had it as a boy by the fireside in a tiny terrace at the back of Roden Street barracks. Just toasted, no cheese, sad to recall. So that’s it, then, Sunblest Veda goes back on the shopping list. Which is going inside the new shopping bag.