50 Shades of Grey

Picture courtesy of the Guardian

Practically new.

I can’t do the laundry.  It’s ingrained in my family legend, along with my father’s inability to make a cup of tea without the top being splattered with tannin scabs, my mother’s compulsion to apply blusher before even the simplest of tasks and my sister’s joy at her own farts, like an indulgent mentor.  What on earth would the modern reworking of our coat of arms look like?  We no longer have recourse to deer hunting, fishing and jousting; rather, our chivalric codes involve minor acts of failure or the need to keep up appearances (very English of us).

Our shield would bear a grey bra, a pot of cream Rimmel, a teabag with a sad face and a gust of yellow wind.  The background design would consist of a gigantic unisex ‘meh’ face.

So my incompetency with the laundry is part of what defines me.  I gave my mum the opportunity to list  all  my failings recently (spoiling for a fight, anyone?) and the first one, off the bat was ‘you’re crap at washing’.  If you’re interested, the rest of the list went:

You sniff too much.

You don’t wear enough make up (predictable).

Sometimes you’re very sharp with me.

I refute the last, especially as I had just given the chance of a lifetime, a free pop at all my insecurities:  surely every mother’s dream?  How is that the gesture of a sharp daughter?  I knew she was clutching at straws by then.  I digress;  the point is that laundry is the first thing that comes to mind.  Even my husband, in a bid to artificially bond himself further to my clan, knows to drop the L-bomb in the right circumstances, such as a party, an intervention, or a funeral, to lighten the atmosphere.  How they all laugh  (It’s true!  She can’t!).  My reaction over the years has ranged from the immature and defiant (“well, you’re shit at …being attractive!”) to a gentle and resigned nod of acceptance.  I have found my defining fault and can settle into it, like a retiree with a well-tended garden.  Enjoy the fruits of my hopelessness.

Naturally, there’s lots of way to be shit at ding the laundry; mine is greification.  This is a word I made up, but it sums up very well what I do.  I turn everything into a greyer version of itself.  You’ve got a nude T-shirt bra?  No problem, let me make that taupe-ish for you.  That red and white striped tunic would look better, IMHO, if the colours bled a little, till the over-all tone was elastoplast.  I’m also a wizard at transforming fluffy new towels into strips of cotton Ryvita and have recently discovered a new power for turning bra cups from convex to concave.

On business cards, I could introduce myself as ‘Laundry destroyer, specialism in underwear and towels”.

If you have failed to find your niche family identity and would like to give try laundry inadequacy a go, here’s how:

Separating colours, darks and whites is a waste of time, and politically incorrect.

Likewise, don’t segregate ‘delicates’ and the rest.  Those dainties need to toughen up a bit!

Leaving it in there overnight is fine.  If you can’t be bothered to take it out, that is.

Put EVERYTHING on at 40, regardless.  The dial is too confusing otherwise, like the device in Stargate.  Leave well alone.

Sometimes I like to spice it up a bit by not checking the pockets of trousers for coins or tissue residue.  Once the cycle is done, who knows?  You might be greeted by a White Christmas in that drum, where everything is dusted with a fine layer of soggy snot rags!

To be honest, I have always had guaranteed results with this system.  I hate the machine and the machine hates me, so it feels good when I make it suffer.

Until today that is, when the persecutor became the saviour (or something like that).  The machine has not been happy for some time.  It whines, it struggles, it fails to drain, like it has an excess of tears.  I tried everything you could think of, by which i mean I hit it quite hard and then walked into another room.  Despite my best efforts,  nothing eased its plight.

I knew what I had to do.  I had to open up the weird little socket-y thing at the bottom and purge its sodden soul.

You may have noticed that the Olympics is on at the moment, so you may have a similar condition to me.  All mundane task are accompanied by a commentator style voiceover generated by my brain and played into my ears by my head space.  So, as I laid down the first towel and loosened the valve, John Inverdale intoned: “This is a tricky one, as she can’t be sure what she’s up against”.  2 minutes later, shifting from knees to crosslegs, Sue Barker chipped in “Well that’s tactical, if ever I saw it”.  5 minutes later as I was running out of towel and had to make a mad dash for a (naturally) grey oven mitt to mop up the overspill,  Gabby Logan declared it “her first real error and one she may live to regret, if the competition keeps up this pace”.

And all the time, the water kept seeping out, darkening the various grey porous cloths that were drafted in to soak it up, like an endless cycle of that bit that they always used to put in sanitary pad commercials, where the blue water would disappear completely into the bulky white strip and be locked in for eternity.

I was beginning to think that my nemesis had the better of me, as I stretched in desperation for the semi absorbent sheath of a discarded sleeping bag when the rain stopped.
It was over.  I had won.  I rooted in and pulled out the cause of the obstruction: a pair of grey knickers and a 5 pence coin.

To the victor the spoils.

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