Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Hong Kong note book: Chinese laundry

Instructions for laundry.

8am. Enter the offspring lair. It is dark, dank, and smells of cheese. Throw open the curtains. At the withering touch of sunlight, the offspring will howl like vampires and hide under duvets. This is good. Let us continue without fear of assault. Pause to point to floor, dramatically. Although light filters grimly into the room, the floor of the lair remains in darkness. It is submerged in stuff. With pincer grip and expression of infinite disgust, pick all fabric items from the spoil heap and drop them with a shiver into a large plastic bag. Stain proof surgical gloves are advised.

10am. Put on your shoes and prepare to leave the house, clutching the plastic bag at arm's length. Before departure into the jungle we must drench ourselves with vile stinky fuel. Mosquito/hornet/scarybug will totally avoid us. This is a small price to pay to complete the laundry.

10.10am. Enter Main Street. Yes, the Main Street is less than one metre wide, what with the hole in the road and the metal plates. Round here it is like the M25. Avoid man on bicycle going tingtingting behind you. Swerve past old lady with coolie hat. She is a town cleaner who is a bit like your mum on the warpath. Avoid. She has a big brush. Arrive at laundry.

10.15am. Ting the desk bell. While you wait, deposit plastic bag in blue basket wobbling on top of weighing scales (Figure 1).

10.17am. Lady with note pad reads ancient scales while you simultaneously will the twitching needle to settle under the 7lbs threshold. This will save two dollars. It is always just over the threshold, so really, what is the point? It is not worth the mental strain. Lady writes down numbers on pad, rips off paper, passes it to you without eye contact. She may grunt No Iron. She sharply removes plastic bag and disappears into rear of laundry. Pause for a moment to wonder whether you have just donated all offspring clothes plus one pair husband trousers to sad cat shop by accident. Hmm. Reflect that this really is the laundry, even though some days you can see sad cats and other practices, because look. There is a washing machine. Sigh with relief. Go home and amuse self by reading blogs, newspaper, watching clouds, etc.

2pm. Bribe offspring from lair with promises of chocolate milkshakes, sweet rice cakes, trips to beach, Chinese pears, etc. etc. All lies. Really, child labour needed to collect laundry. Offer offspring piece of paper and thirty dollars. Provide instructions to give piece of paper and dollars to laundry lady. She will go fetch big plastic bag filled with warm washed, dried clothes, hopefully yours. Tell offspring to bring them home. Provide clear instructions not to put bag down, forget about it, drop it into hole in road, bash bag into man on bicycle etc. etc.

2.30pm. Laundry home. Reward self for having done the laundry with a Tsingtao and more cloud analysis.

7pm. Say to returning husband, 'I have had an exhausting day. I did the laundry.'


sharon said...

How lovely. Wish it was that easy here ;-)

ladybirdcook said...

that sounds like bliss - and how educational for the children to see where the laundry gets done!

MadameSmokinGun said...

A real Chinese laundry?

Are you SURE it's not a front for Big Mary's Tart Shop?

Rachel M. said...

Who knew laundry could be such a riveting story. And I just learned to spell riveting. Ha, love spell check, makes me look smarter than what I really am.

Grit said...

hi people! thank you for your comments. this is a luxury i shall miss, having the laundry done for me. it is like keeping your mum with a hotpoint in a shed at the bottom of the garden.