Offering us the chance to take a tantalising glimpse into people’s wardrobes, it’s perhaps not surprising that launderettes have provided the setting for many an onscreen drama.
Bringing perfect strangers together in an unusually intimate environment, there’s something cosy and confidential about a launderette. It was among the whir of washers and the smell of detergent that one of the world’s most famous TV couples shared their first kiss. Everyone remembers the on-off romance between Friends’ Ross and Rachel, but while their first romantic snog came in the groups’ favourite coffee shop, the launderette was the place where Rachel planted a celebratory smacker on her future boyfriend after outwitting a tough New York native.
This side of the pond, we’re more likely to find ourselves watching various Eastenders air their dirty laundry in Mr Papadopoulos’s Walford launderette. Run by Dot Cotton and Pauline Fowler, this famous spot has become the perfect place for the soap’s characters to come clean over the years.
It’s not just the nineties that saw love among the suds. Gritty eighties romance My Beautiful Launderette used the classic community gathering point to offer a vivid portrayal of the homophobia and racism lurking in London, as well as a ray of hope. More recently, Ben Affleck’s Boston-based drama The Town saw sparks fly between Affleck’s career criminal and a key witness to one of his gang’s crimes.
Despite the glamorous picture painted in the movies, launderettes are fading from our streets, with numbers dwindling by 75% in 25 years. Once you’ve got past the idealised image of a glorious haven for gossip, love and scheming, we remember that they weren’t always so fun. There’s nothing more frustrating than bagging a machine just to realise you’ve left tomorrow’s outfit on the floor at home, or the one time your machine finishes while you’ve popped out, just for some incredibly rude person to dump your washing on the floor. On top of that, your chances of seeing a Hollywood romance unfold before your eyes are pretty slim.
The launderettes in our lives are rarely as exciting as those depicted in films and TV shows, so get with the 21st century and leave this relic to the screen by investing in one of a range of washing machines available at Very.co.uk.