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The Happy Wanderers

October 16, 2009

24th Jun 2007

The following is a true tale, concerning a young couple, two kids, a pile of dirty washing, and a launderette in Oban (a small town in the West Highlands of Scotland).

Many years ago, a pretty young lass met a handsome Scot. Let’s call him – Duncan. And lets call the lass – Mrs D. For indeed, it was she – although she had not yet acquired that enviable status when the event I am about to relate took place.

The couple had known each other only a few months but had reached that stage in their relationship when each was beginning to wonder if just perhaps there might be something here worth hanging onto. (Both had been married before, and each was wary of new commitments)

family-automobile-color200A holiday was planned. The future Mrs D had never visited Scotland so Duncan suggested he show her and the kids some of his old haunts – spend 7-10 days on Luing (an island just off the West Coast of Scotland), using the island as a base to explore the surrounding countryside, and then a few days in Edinburgh to take in some of the events during the Festival.

At first all went well. The kids loved the island. The future Mrs D loved the island. But then ……… the weather changed.

drawing-rain-cloud200Days of glorious sunshine gave way to days of unceasing, torrential rain. Pretty soon all their clothes were dirty and wet – even the few clean ones were damp. The kids were bored. In desperation, Duncan came up with a plan. – stick the kids and the future Mrs D in the car, put all the dirty clothes in black bags and put them in the boot. Drive to Oban – the nearest town on the mainland – take the black bags with the dirty washing to the launderette, leave them there for a ’service wash’, catch the ferry across to Mull, spend a few days there, catch the ferry back to Oban, pick up the clean clothes from the laundrette, then head off to Edinburgh.

It was a good plan. The kids thought it was a good plan. The future Mrs D thought it a good plan – (particularly the part that involved leaving our dirty washing for someone else to do!) In fact, it was an excellent plan. Where it fell down was in the execution.

obangettyimage300When we returned to Oban on the Saturday afternoon to collect our washing, the flaw in my previously universally acclaimed plan became apparent – its always the little things that let us down – the launderette closed at lunchtime on a Saturday. With our only clean clothes now trapped inside the laundrette until it reopened on the Monday, it was time for a new plan –

a) I suggested we go back to Luing and spend the rest of the weekend there while we waited for the laundrette to reopen on the Monday. I was out voted!

b) I suggested we go on to Edinburgh without our clothes and I would get some of the folk I knew in the area to collect our washing on the Monday and send it on to us. Several phone calls later that plan had to be abandoned when I discovered what few remaining friends I knew in the area had themselves all gone through to Edinburgh for the Festival.

c) I suggested we go in to the Off Licence.

‘For F*cks sake!‘ said the future Mrs D ‘Is that all you can think about? Drink!’

Well, its true my mind was turning in that direction, but some instinct warned me this was not the time to admit it!

‘Certainly, not!’ I replied, putting an injured look on my face.

‘How can you think that of me? I merely observed that as the Off Licence is situated next door to the laundrette it is possible one of the staff in there might have an address or a telephone No for the owner/manager of the laundrette. If we can contact him (or her) we may be able to persuade them to return and open up so we can get our clean clothes out.’

Looking suitably contrite at having so misjudged me, the future Mrs D followed me in to the Off License.

whiskey-iceLater, armed with the name and address of one of the girls who worked in the laundrette, we went round to her flat. While the future Mrs D explained our predicament, the girl’s boyfriend offered me a drink from his bottle. While the girl tried several times to get hold of her boss on the phone – without success – her boyfriend offered me another drink from his bottle.

‘Not to worry’, the boyfriend said. ‘Its Saturday afternoon. He’ll be in the pub, or in the bookies. We’ll soon find him’. At that, we set off on his trail.

At the 1st pub we visited we were told ‘He was in about an hour ago’. At which point the boyfriend turned to me and said –

‘Do you fancy a drink seeing as how we’re here anyway?’

‘Might as well’, I replied. ‘I’ll get them in’

man_holding_a_mug_of_beer250While I was at the bar, the boyfriend regaled the company with the saga of our missing laundry!

Pub culture being what it is, we couldn’t set off for the next pub before the boyfriend had bought me a drink in return for the one I had bought him earlier. Despite this, I felt for a time that we were gaining on our quarry –

‘Aye, he was in about ½ hr ago’

‘About 15 minutes ago’

‘Only just left. About 10 minutes ago. Are you sure you didn’t pass him?’

However, the cumulative effect of having two drinks in every bar started to slow us down. Added to that, the boyfriend’s tale of our missing washing was getting longer and longer in the retelling, the more pubs we visited. Then, suddenly, a bright light flashed. The boyfriend had detected a pattern to the peregrinations of the laundrette manager. He thumped the bar with his fist.

‘Christ!’, he exclaimed. ‘A’m a f*cking eejit. Ah ken whit the bugger’s daein’ He’s gaun roun in a fucking circle’ We’ll aye be one step behind if we cairry oan the way wur daein. What we need tae dae noo is go back the way we come an’ eventually we’ll meet the bastard comin’ the other way’

puzzled_ms200This seemed like a good idea to me. It might also provide the answer to something else that was beginning to bother me. It had started as a little nagging ‘tickle’ at the edge of my consciousness but had gradually forced its way to the fore – where the hell was the future Mrs D and the kids? We had been a party of 5 when we set out on our quest. We were now reduced to 2. I had no recollection of where, how, or why but I seemed to have ‘lost’ them. I had an instinctive feeling I was in even more trouble when (or if) I ever found her again.

A good while later – I’d lost track of the time – the boyfriend and I finally admitted defeat. We had visited loads of pubs – some of them more than once – but found no trace of the laundrette owner. Arms around each other for support, we weaved our way back to his girlfriends flat. To my surprise and delight, there sat the future Mrs D – I’d found her! She was equally pleased to see me.

Woman_Strangling_Her_Husband200‘Where the f*ck have you been.

I’ve been beside myself with worry.

Do you realise what f-cking time it is?

You’ve been gone for f-cking hours?’

While the future Mrs D was greeting me with a barrage of questions, the boyfriend had realised there was just enough left in his bottle for two more drams. While he was pouring the drinks, the future Mrs D started talking ‘dirty’.

‘I’ve a good mind to stuff that whisky bottle up your f-cking arse!

Later that night, as we left Oban and headed towards Edinburgh, the future Mrs D driving while I slumped semi-conscious in the passenger seat, she reflected on the day’s events.

‘What a f-cking disaster. I can’t believe you. How could you be so stupid as to leave our washing in a laundrette without checking the opening hours? And then you go and top it all by giving a total stranger, who’s name you can’t remember, nor his address, £100 to collect our washing on the Monday and send it on to us in Birmingham. You want your f-cking head examined. You can say goodbye to your £100, and our washing. We won’t see either again. I can’t believe I’m with such a f-ckwit. That’s the most stupidest thing I’ve ever come across. You can bet we hadn’t been gone 2 minutes before your new-found drinking crony was down the Off-Licence with your £100 stocking up with booze.

‘Nonsense’, I replied. ‘He wouldn’t do that. We’re like brothers. I’d trust him with my life!’

‘You just have’, said the future Mrs D. ‘I’m going to kill you if our washing’s not there waiting for us when we get back home’

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2009 1:53 am

    Well???? What happened?

  2. October 17, 2009 4:30 am

    I wondered when someone would ask 😆

    When we got back to Birmingham our neighbour had taken a parcel in for us. When opened, we found our missing clothes, washed , dried, ironed, folded neatly, a letter of apology from the manageress of the laundry for the inconvenience we had suffered, a detailed statement of the costs incurred, and the exact change out of the £100 I had given to my fellow (nameless) drinking companion!

    [The future Mrs D looked suitably chastened 😳 at ever entertaining doubts about the honesty of that helpful Oban drunk] 😆

  3. October 25, 2009 8:23 am

    Smashing tale.

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