Monday, 28 January 2008

The Blowpipe Laundry

I had promised my guard dog, Brass, that during our trip we would visit his previous owners at the Blowpipe Laundry.

There are no windows and only one very small door in Laundry Tower. On the door is a notice.

If you wish to go up to Laundry open door.
If you are a party, don't close door till
you are all in. The blower only works when
door is shut and latched. If you have done
everything properly you will get blown to
the top of the tower in a moment.

It is rather a squash in the dark roofless space beyond the door but by breathing in I managed to get the door shut and latched. Then we felt a breeze coming through small holes in the floor. It grew stronger and stronger, and Goodman, being light, was blown past me and disappeared. The One-Armed Badger and the Old Monkey hung on to my legs as a mighty wind blew through the holes - it roared and then changed into a scream. All at once we were all lifted and travelled swiftly up a dark shaft.

Soon we felt a grating slide out beneath us and we were in daylight in a roofless compartment. It is an unusual and somewhat disconcerting method of travel but great fun once you get used to it.

Mrs Moonray, the owner of the Blowpipe Laundry, and her daughter Lucy were very pleased to see us and they had a fond reunion with Brass.

Mrs Moonray had mostly been dependent on the dwarfs' washing for her business until I had given her a contract to do the washing for myself and the staff of Homeward. She was most pleased as dwarf's washing is awful. You can tear a dwarf's shirt in a moment if you are not careful, and dwarfs' children's socks are apt to slip through your fingers. It is a nice change for her to have something big to wash. She insists on washing everything by hand as she thinks washing machines shake the clothes to bits. She does, though, use the blowpipe for drying on wet days.

I asked her how the work was going. "Oh I used to love washing your nice clothes, Sir," she said " it was a pleasure to have such nice materials running through my hands." she added. "But this new stuff you have been sending isn't half rough on the hands...what is it?...some sort self imposed punishment or penance is it? really are too hard on yourself...I'm sure nobody really begrudges you your need to feel guilty about it..." she wittered on.

I interrupted her and informed her that I did not know what she was talking about. She pointed to the washing line which was covered in items made from sackcloth. "Why these cloths, Sir, they arrive every week to be washed on your account. Horrible they are !"
she exclaimed.

At that point Beaver arrived, through the blowpipe, with a gaggle of tourists on his tour party.

"Yes this is the poor exploited lady who the tyrant pays a pittance to wash his dirty laundry," he shouted. "Can you imagine how long it takes the put-upon old woman to iron his enormous outsize garments? who but the most hard-hearted elephant could not feel pity for her?" he continued.

Then he saw the sack clothes on the washing line. "Oh great - clean pants! I've been wearing these for a month so its about time I changed 'em I suppose." he declared.
As the Badfort Crowd made a grab for their washing he winked at me and said "Cheers Unc! thanks for the laundry service."

Before we could grab them they made a run for it down the blowpipe, pausing only to ram a pair of underpants over the Old Monkey's head.

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