Monday, September 29, 2008

Hanging out the washing

The sun is shining, a breeze blowing; perfect drying weather. I love the sight of washing drying on the line in the garden, I love the smell of the sun-dried laundry. It was a terrible shock, therefore to learn that this could soon become a mere memory. I read with dropped jaw about the ban on hanging laundry out to dry in Vermont, over on Letters from a Hill Farm but I didn't think it could possibly happen in England. Wrong!

It took a few seconds of googling to discover this story of a man in Southampton, threatened with expulsion from his home unless he stops drying his clothes in his garden.
A few minutes more revealed that many local authorities and housing associations have included a clause in their tenancy agreements banning laundry drying in gardens and on balconies. I couldn't find any reference to these authorities providing indoor drying facilities for their tenants, or copies of their policies on energy conservation.

Here's a gesture of solidarity with people everywhere who have lost their right to hang out their washing and, come the Revolution, I'll be flying my tablecloths from the highest flagpole rather than my rotary dryer.

We’re gonna hang out our washing on the Siegfried Line.
Have you any dirty washing, mother dear?
We’re gonna hang out our washing on the Siegfried Line,
‘Cos the washing day is here.
Whether the weather may be wet or fine,
We’ll just rub along without a care.
We’re gonna hang out our washing on the Siegfried Line,
If the Siegfried Line’s still there.


  1. Good heavens! Can this possibly be true? And how's that going to affect our carbon footprints, then? Will we have to run electricity-eating tumble driers or have the central heating radiators running all the time, then? How absurd. I've just hung out my third load today in the garden and I can't imagine what life would be like for this family of 5 if i couldn't do all that drying for free (or indeed so quickly).

  2. To be fair, it's not only Vermont. Defiling the landscape by hanging clean laundry outdoors is outlawed in many other parts of the U.S. as well.

  3. e, do they really call it 'defiling the landscape' or is that your tongue-in-cheek description? What next, I wonder? Perhaps a ban on opening windows as the symmetry of the buildings would be spoiled?

  4. The only reason the essay was focused on the state of Vermont is because that's where the catalogue/store is centered. This is indeed an issue all across the country. My mother-in-law lives in a condo development (all owned condos, not rented) and she isn't allowed to keep her garage door open. But it isn't just condominium developments for older people, but all sorts of housing associations all over the country with rules. There are places in Europe, too, I believe where you have to keep your lawn looking as 'good' as the neighbor's, etc. That little essay has drawn A LOT of comments on my blog!

  5. I was just following suit today, M, (like you I enjoy a good billow) and the rain started . . . so I had to lug it all back indoors again.

  6. Just a bit of poetic license m.

    I could write a book on the hypocrisy of the aging trust-fund-hippie population in Vermont.


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