it's time for an installment of "what's different in England."
i won't try to tie things together in a story -- today i'm just going to talk a little bit about doing laundry here in good ol' Great Britain.
first of all, almost no one in England appears to use a TUMBLE DRYER when they do their laundry.
what kind of dryer do they use instead, you ask?
they hang their wet laundry on clothes lines and fold-away drying racks either indoors or outdoors like it's the god-damn Great Depression.
i have yet to find an Englishman who can really explain why this is the case. i grew up in America where doing laundry had two parts: load into the washing machine to wash and transfer to the dryer to dry. the process of doing each load of laundry took about an hour and a half, give or take.
obviously there are occasions where fabrics are delicate and should not be put in a dryer of any kind, and i follow those rules. of course. but i DO put my t-shirts and towels and miscellaneous clothing into the dryer so i can get them dry and put them away as easily as possible.
i have considered the fact that not using a tumble dryer when doing laundry allows people to live a more "green" lifestyle -- you know, not use up so much electricity -- and that's lovely. but i don't think that's why the English do it. i seriously doubt every generation of living Englishman and woman has gone green in the laundry department. i simply don't believe there's an entire nation of modern, civilized people shunning the tumble dryer while embracing the washing machine.
frankly, it's inefficient. it costs you time. you can't wash something you need at the last minute because it will never dry in time, and you can't do more than one load of laundry in an afternoon because who the heck has space to hang multiple loads of laundry out on separate racks and bars all over their house?
here you have to wait until the first clothes are totally dry before you remove them and hang up the next load. it might take all day for a load of jeans to dry. not to mention the air-drying method makes cotton towels stiff and wrinkles most clothing terribly, thereby REQUIRING the use of an iron on things that wouldn't NEED ironing if they'd been dried in a tumble dryer.
you save electricity by air-drying, but then you spend some of that saving right away by using an iron for a few hours afterward. not to mention that ironing clothes is a tedious, time-consuming task that most people would rather leave to a maid or dry cleaner.
oh, but wait -- have i mentioned that it's common in English flats to have a single-unit laundry machine that converts from washer to dryer in the same compartment? i've used two different models of these things so far. they are hopelessly tiny, front-loading washers that when done rinsing and spinning, start to tumble your clothes with the addition of hot air.
the problem is, the ones i've actually used are MINISCULE. you can't even wash a set of bed sheets in there. you have to wash the sheets one at a time, then do the pillowcases separately too. and there's no room for the fabric to TUMBLE dry, so even if you do go against society and attempt to "dry" something in the dryer it takes you two hours because there's no space for it to tumble around in.
also, if you DO wait for the item(s) to get dry in the tiny dryer they will emerge more wrinkled than you can possibly imagine. and if you have a large item (or several items) in there you can bet the stuff will emerge hopelessly tangled and twisted up as well.
you can't win.
i've tried doing laundry in many ways lately. i've even used a washing machine that had to be manually filled with buckets of water for the wash cycle, then filled again for the rinse cycle. and after all that work you still can't throw the stuff in a nice dryer and have it emerge wrinkle-free after an hour or so. it's maddening.
maybe people here need to re-think the way they do their laundry. perhaps they're all so wealthy that their butlers deal with hanging and ironing the laundry so they just don't care. i don't know. maybe if more English folks went and spent a month or two in America getting their laundry fluffed and folded in an amazingly short amount of time they'd move back to England and riot against the air-drying of laundry. again, i don't know.
what i do know is that i didn't much like doing laundry when i lived in America, but now that i'm in England it's become a royal pain in my ass.
i have to stop writing now -- it's time to milk the cows and churn the butter.