Laundry Day in London by
(309 Stories)

Prompted By Laundry

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Laundry Day in London

Remembering gentler times when we weren’t so wary of others and had more trust in the kindness of strangers,   I think about laundry day in London.

In the early 1970s my husband Danny had the chance to work in that wonderful city for a year and we grabbed it.  I took a leave of absence from my teaching job,  we sublet our apartment,  and packed our raincoats and umbrellas.   We couldn’t take our cat unless we first quarantined him for six months,  so instead we boarded him with my mother-in-law.

We rented a lovely flat with a garden off the Kings Road in Chelsea,  and so began our London sojourn.  (See Inks and Derek: Art and the Cricket Scores,  Kinky Boots, and  Valentine’s Day in Foggytown)

To keep me busy while Danny was at work,  I decided to take some courses and discovered a wonderful school called City Lit on fabled Drury Lane that offered adult education classes.  I signed up for Survey of British Lit,  History Tours of London,  and in an attempt to improve my culinary skills – a cooking course.   (See Intro to Cookery)

My classes met three mornings a week and I happily found much else to do in Londontown to fill the rest of my time.  Our flat had no washer & dryer,  so once a week I took our laundry to Sketchley’s Cleaners on the Kings Road.  There was a stop in front of Sketchley’s for the bus that took me to Drury Lane,  so it made sense to drop the laundry on a morning I had a class and then hop on the bus.

But the first time I carried my laundry bag to the cleaners at that early hour,  I discovered they weren’t open yet.  I didn’t have time to run back home and still get to class on time,  and the other option was taking my dirty laundry on the bus with me to school.

I stood on the sidewalk pondering what to do when a chap approached,  also carrying a bulging laundry bag.

”I’m afraid they’re still closed.” ,  I told him.

”I know Luv”,   he said,  “just leave it here,  they’ll collect it when they come to open up.”

And so I left my laundry bag on Sketchley’s doorstep next to his.

“No one back in New York would believe this!”,  I said to myself as I got on the bus.


– Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: London
Characterizations: funny, moving, well written


  1. Suzy says:

    This is a fun story, Dana. Even though it isn’t about door-to-door sales, our prompt made you think of it. That’s the purpose of the prompts in general – to remind you of a story from your past that you might not otherwise have thought of. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. Interesting direction, Dee. All these stories have really been making me miss “the good old days,” but I have a strong feeling that strangers are just as kind now, it’s our view of them that has changed. Maybe ignorance WAS bliss.

  3. Marian says:

    Dana, this is a hoot, and indeed no one in New York would believe it. I love your take on door-to-door!

  4. Betsy Pfau says:

    First, I love that you had that year to explore London and take those wonderful courses. But to the point of your story, it is true…it would be UNHEARD OF to just trust that no one would walk off with your laundry, were you to leave it in front of a shop in any large US city, even though this was a while ago. What a fun story, Dana! I suspect things would be different now, even in London.

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    I enjoyed this reflection on more trusting times, Dana, when you could literally leave your laundry “door-to-door” and not worry someone would steal it. After reading Charles’s story, yours was a refreshing reminder that some people could be trusted.

  6. Charming story, Dana. What a sweet opportunity-your time in London sounds exciting and filled with learning. A nostalgia look at how much trust we have lost in our communities.

  7. I found Toronto to be much like London (in its variety of ethnicities) and in a more local place – downtown Quincy, MA.

  8. Laurie Levy says:

    That’s an amazing story, Dana. Even back in the early 70s, your things would have been stolen as soon as you hopped on that bus.

  9. Jim Willis says:

    Wow, Dana, that IS hard to believe! I guess Brits are occupied with more important things than stealing laundry. Cool story and I envy your time living in London.

  10. Khati Hendry says:

    Great story. Truth is stranger than fiction. There are still a few places at farm stands here where people have an honor box to leave money for fruit that is purchased. If only trust and honesty were the norm.

  11. Dave Ventre says:

    I do so envy your year in London! I found it – and the British – charming and funny and friendly. Hoping to go back in ’24.

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