When I collected up said sleeping bags for washing, I checked the instructions on the label. Yes, you can wash them in a machine - an industrial machine. So I went to the cleaners in Sheffield and they quoted me £12.70 per sleeping bag, or, if I did it myself in their large machines, it would work out around £20 for the lot. But the machines were not always free, and as I live half an hour away, I couldn't easily pack five sleeping bags into the car and pop in on the off chance.
So yesterday, I washed and rinsed one in the bath, and spun it in our machine. Then it went on the line. I'm hoping it will be dry enough to pack away in a couple of days. Only four more to go.
As I was swishing it around in the bath, my thoughts drifted to the memory of Dave washing the duvet in the bath. You may have read a version of this in But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You.
If not - here it is. Completely true.
While Jem was away, Fran snatched the opportunity to take her duvet to the cleaners. The launderette in Bakewell had closed down, so she rang a dry cleaner's in Sheffield and they quoted her £16.99 and a two week turnaround.
Sol was horrified “That’s ridiculous!” he said. “They don’t know what to charge! I’ll wash it myself.”
“But it’s a double one. It won’t fit in the machine. Really Sol, please don’t bother.”
“I know! I’ll do it in the fun tub!” The fun tub was a huge plastic tub - three feet across and three feet deep – of the kind that builders generally use for rubble, and which Sol used for DIY. But it was languishing in the shed stuffed with used plastic cartons which Sol said would one day “come in useful.”
“It’s fine, Sol. Really,” said Fran. “I’ll take it to the cleaners.”
“No, no. I’m not going to be defeated. I know! I’ll do it in the bath. That’s more commodious and it has running hot water. Better than the fun tub!”
He swung the duvet into the bath and turned on the taps, but the duvet behaved like an enormous sponge and soaked up every drop of water. He couldn’t swish it around to make a washing motion, and had to bend right over and pummel the thing. It was like wrestling with an alligator, though Sol looked less like the hero in Crocodile Dundee and more like an also-ran in a wet T-shirt competition.
Even when rinsed and squeezed, the duvet was so heavy that he found it hard to pick up. He had to bundle it up and clutch it to his chest like those contestants in The Strongest Man in the World competition, who stagger for a hundred yards carrying a boulder as big as a buffalo.
He planned to go down the stairs with it, through the open front door, and outside to the washing line. But he slipped just two steps from the bottom, lurched forwards into the wall, squeezing the duvet and depositing a couple of gallons of water on the hall floor.
Eventually he got the duvet outside and edged it bit by bit over the washing line, which then swooped grasswards in a giant parabola, though miraculously the trees to which it was tied remained rooted.
Fran feared for the trees to which the line was tied. It was a miracle they weren’t uprooted. She wondered how many days it would take for the duvet to dry. Who but Sol would have thought of washing a duvet in February?