Erik has nearly finished the extension, which is good, but he’s taken to playing dance music, very loud, from 8am. Having just been on a five-day intensive yoga course, I should be able to let it wash over me, but I really don’t like it. I went to the laundrette, hoping for delightful repose, even some meditation. It was very rainy, and the laundrette was packed, with mostly very grumpy people. I negotiated the puddles on the floor, and various huge bags of clothes, and sat on a bench, waiting for a machine to become free. The grumpiness fitted with the weather, and the aggravation of trying to get dirty things clean. Then someone started whistling.
It was a tuneful whistle, of a familiar melody, bright and summery, which was maybe why it was so annoying. I peered through the gloom. The whistler was by the window, hands in his pockets, his back against the glass. I stared at his face. It was rather beautiful, but there were long strands of snot dangling from his nose.
It was the Lucozade woman, the one who’d tried to stop the pink-dreadlocked woman washing her carpets a few weeks ago. I scanned all the forbidding signs (No Eating, No Toilet Facilities, No Trainers in the Machines) half expecting a No Whistling sign. There wasn’t one.
“You hear me! No whistling!” The woman had been dragging huge wet spaghetti balls of washing out of a machine, but when her order was ignored she straightened up and turned round. She shoved her face right in his face, but then drew back, presumably because of the snot. It had done the trick, though, he’d stopped. I stood up and took ownership of Lucozade woman’s machine. I stuffed my washing in, but I didn’t have enough pound coins, so I plucked up the courage to approach the attendant, sitting in the shadowy cupboard room at the back. “Excuse me….” Fiver in my hand, I peered into the cupboard. The Shadowy Attendant’s glasses glinted.
Someone was already pulling my washing out of the machine. I took over, scooping what had been dropped on the floor back into my bag.It was raining too hard to go out for change. As I sat back down, the whistling started again. Three Little Birds, that was it. A number of people now turned their heads towards the man, muttering angrily.
“No whistling! Didn’t you hear the lady?”
“Just shut it, can’t you!”
“What’s wrong with you, man!”
The whistling had got impressively louder. I looked at the Whistling Man. He was moving now, swaying to his tune, and the snot strands were swaying too. Then he turned his head and looked to the back of the room, and the snot strands flew like children on a carousel. We all looked too.. and were amazed to see the Shadowy Attendant emerging. Everyone drew back to make a pathway. The Shadowy Attendant glided through, bearing a piece of yellow card.
We all gazed at the new sign. The whistling stopped, and the Shadowy Attendant glided back into the cupboard. People started getting back to their washing, but the whistling man kept staring at the sign, brow furrowed. I looked back up at it, and noticed that it half hid the Trainers sign, so it now just said No Trainers. I glanced around. Nearly everyone was wearing trainers. Then the whistling man cleared his throat.
Rise up this morning…..
His voice was even more impressive than his whistling. Warm and deep and vibrant, it gave itself to the squalid room.