'Today's Monday, today's Monday
Monday's washing day
Is ev'rybody happy?
You bet your life we are.'
I remember singing that song as I turned the handle of the mangle for my gran. 'Watch your fingers' she would say. She washed in a gas boiler in the kitchen, then we’d put the clothes through the mangle in the front hall on winter’s days, catching the drops of water in an old tin bucket.
In the summer we mangled 'out the back' in the open air the smell of lilac everywhere. That’s the mangle in the picture, but by the time I was turning its light green handle we’d replace the dolly and barrel with the boiler.
Monday was wash day; the lines full of sheets and shirts, socks and hankies, towels and pudding cloths. Yes, pudding cloths; my gran made a great spotted dick. I remember the washboard that she kept by the pottery sink, and the pink scrubbing soap for collars, and the smell of bleach, the feel of starch – I remember that my Mum had our first twin tub... so modern after the round, enamel, gas boiler in the kitchen.
I can smell wash day even now – so clean, so fresh. I can feel the mangle handle in my hands, hear its clickety-clack as it turns, taste the starch in the air, see the clothes pass out of the rollers and concertina into the tin bath below.
When I bought my house in
I'm glad to have grown up with mangles, black and white TV, only 2 TV channels, seasonal veg, spotted dick, open fires (and only open fires not as well as), frost inside the windows in winter, real coal, the home service - sometimes it's all a bit too easy today… which is probably why I don't really like using the dishwasher, prefer radio to TV, and can’t work out the programs on the washing machine.
I wonder what today’s kids will remember fondly in the future – Flat screen not hologram, hi definition not 3D, laptops not hand-held, switches not voice activation – who knows?
'Watch your fingers', Gran would say. I'd happily give a finger or two to have a just a couple more hours turning that mangle for her once more - she had all the answers, gave the best advice, and it was all so much simpler back then.
You know, next time I pass a mangle covered in flower pots I might nick it and start doing the washing by hand.
'Is ev'rybody happy?'