Thursday, September 21, 2006

Art wash hair

Back in the summer of 1998 when M and I first got together his band were playing at a big garden party in a big garden up a big hill just outside Oxford. Idyllic in theory, but potentially terrifying in practice.

Will your scary ex wife be there? I said. No chance, he said. Really no chance? Definitely no chance.

The night before he said, oh by the way, I think my scary ex wife will be there. Right you are, I said, putting extra glitter in my armpits and painting my toenails black. Do you think she'll come and talk to me?

Of course not, he said. Really? I said. I really can't think of anything less likely to happen in the whole world ever, he said. There's just no way that will happen.

And so it was that while he was on stage singing Sympathy For the Devil his scary ex wife marched across the lawn towards me. Are you Jo? she said. Er, yes, I said. I'm M's scary ex wife she said (well, not quite, but you get the picture). Right, I said. He's a bastard, she said. At that moment in time (never before, rarely since), I agreed with her.

It's a line I've repeated sporadically since - like many things the comedy value grows as the terror recedes. And last night I laughed like a silent drain when M leant over at the beginning of Art Wash (NB beware v out of date website), an improvised dance / sculpture / music performance in a laundrette in Headington with a target audience of about 15, and whispered 'I don't *think* my scary ex wife will turn up'.

And lo, this time he was right. Instead we watched H struggling out of a wedding dress. I thought at one point she was going to shut herself in a washing machine (to wash that man right out of her hair?) but she told me later that they're not allowed to climb into the machines as it destabilises them.

There's something about laundrettes. And wedding dresses. And Indian summer evenings drinking Bombardier and nurturing allotment fantasies.



Anonymous jonathan said...

Yes there is something about launderettes isn't there? The ones I used to spend long Sunday afternoons in (before we became all grown up and bought a machine of our own) didn't have performance art going on in them as far as I remember, but you could still spend a happy couple of hours just watching the washing go around and bathing in the comforting warmth and sound of the machines (well I used to find it comforting, I think maybe I spent great portions of my childhood in launderettes).

And I used to take an inordinate amount of pride in my fearless mastery of those big cylindrical 20p a go spin-drying machines with the heavy lids on (the trick is to put a towel on the top otherwise your underwear ends up flying across the room and lodging itself about the person of various startled pensioners).

I'll stop now before I get banned from your comment box for commandeering it for launderette reminiscence purposes...

10:37 pm  
Blogger Jo said..., I love laundrettes too. At college we used to have one in the basement, all gothic arches and steam. I kind of think laundry *should* be a communal activity, like it is in EastEnders, where nobody has a washing machine.

11:46 am  

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