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More Washing: 30 tonnes in fact

That’s the thing about it, isn’t it? You never quite get on top of the vast laundry mountain.
I think, in fact, if I ever achieved the goal of getting everything clean, dry, folded up (not ironed, I have my limits) at the same time and tried to put it away, that there would be an insufficency of storage space in any case.  The youngest child thoughtfully helps out with the problem by keeping a lot of her clothes on the floor, as do I.

I did achieve this state of everythingalwayslaundered nirvana once in my life. It was when I was very due to have my second daughter. I know they go on about the ‘nesting instinct’ as if you were some kind of big fat dormouse, but I didn’t notice that at all with the first, and with the second the ‘instinct’ confined itself to the following activities:

  • Manually cleaning the rug in the living room with some mad sudsy concotion in a washing-up bowl
  • Doing the laundry  like I had some kind of OCD

The ‘instinct’ only lasted a week or so because she was a little overdue in arriving. For those few days I knew the joys of an empty washing basket. For some reason, I had decided that there could be nothing worse, nothing more deleterious to a baby’s health to return home to a pile of washing. So I know that joy, and how I achieved it in a 2nd floor flat in Hackney Wick I shall never know, but as much as I moan about the washing now, I remain glad to have a small garden to hang it out in, even if it stays there all week, and even if it is, as it is now, pouring with rain.

And now I think of it, there is something deeper about the emptiness of the washing basket and its significance for me as a new life prepared to enter the world. It is a nebulous concept, totally in keeping with those hazy days of the last week of pregnancy and almost the inverse of this work by Christian Boltanski, shown in Paris and then again in New York in 2010.

The artist said of the 30 tonnes of old clothes installation pictured below and titled ‘No Man’s Land’:

You can hold onto the clothes, and even the heartbeats of many, many people. But you can’t keep anybody

Click the link to this New York Times piece for more about the installation and artist.


That’s what’s in most shops as far as I am concerned. Tat, crap and rubbish. And what I can’t understand is why there are so many people wandering around them looking so happy to be diverted from life by all this shit piled high. I tell you, that really is one of life’s complete mysteries to me.

Christian Boltanski and "No Man's Land"

More on Boltanski here