I remember watching a film about a transsexual Muay Thai boxer on a Cathay Pacific flight once. The sensei character in this movie died not from a sneaky death poke or rabbit punch, but from developing cancer from his day job in a laundry. Now maybe I missed the finer points – and the dramatic purpose of this death was to establish the main character’s battle against the nemesis of well pressed, laundry-folded menswear – but the thing is, I ‘m starting to worry this is going to happen to me. Living, as most people I know do, in shared rental accommodation in London, I do not have a seperate utility room, and hanging pants over kitchen furniture is a little undemocratic – a scant step up from territorial pissing in the corners. And so washing ends up on a rack by the radiator in my bedroom. And in winter months, with the radiator blaring – I wake up every morning with heavy lungs, a sore throat and a newly stoked hatred of the vile smell of washing powder.
And the worst thing about it is there really is no alternative. Clothes, as even the dreadlocked hippies would have to admit, do not wash themselves. For the good of not only myself, but my enironment, I recently switched to more expensive eco tablets. I found later, reading the back of the packets, that the reason that they did half the damage to the environment was that they contained half as much of the active ingredient which actually washes your clothes. This is the sort of rationale which decreases the size of cakes by a half to market them as a diet product (a well-known snack brand are actually doing this as we speak I believe), or taking a carbon-neutral flight to New York that dumps you in the middle of the Atlantic.
My clothes are all turning from nice soft cotton into soapy paper and I’m wondering whether I should get over my horror of daily public transport smell and just wash them less frequently. The worst mistake I ever made (pre-smoking ban) was to put a waxed jacket in the wash to get rid of the stale fags and tube smell. Ruined. Perhaps, though, that just goes to show that waxed jackets are incompatible with the lifestyle of people who hang out in dirty pubs and catch public transport. Anyway, I still blame the washing powder for it all.