Friday, July 09, 2010

The St George Car-Washers

Having a constitutional resistance to washing my car I tend to… well that’s not quite right. ‘Constitutional resistance’ suggests a thought-out principle, but it’s more that it rarely occurs to me to wash my car, which I see purely as a daily transportation machine and a place to listen to my CDs. Last year I had to interrupt a well-known blogger and some-time autophiliac, who was launching into a paean to some sporty motor, to tell him that I drove a Ford Focus with roofbars. “Ah then you wouldn’t know what I was talking about,” he admitted, correctly.

Start again.

Not often thinking to wash my car I tend to allow months to pass between cleanings, but when the Focus becomes unpatriotically dirty outside and repugnantly fungal inside I take it, reluctant as a dog to its bath, to Church Road, opposite St George’s Park. Here an unlikely horde of Lithuanians, Turks and possibly Poles will clean it inside and out for a tenner. They do an incredible job – I always have to check the numberplate to make sure it’s the same car, and then drive it home carefully because the bit underneath the pedals is slippery with polish (Polish?) – but for those used to shopping at Tesco it’s a disconcertingly chaotic arrangement, especially the first time.

You turn up, manoeuvre your vehicle nervously into the general melee of motors, spraying hoses, eardrum-rattling dance music and Lithuanian/Turkish cusswords, get out and stand looking vaguely about yourself, waving your car keys. Eventually from the melee a particular Lithuanian or Turk will emerge and take the keys from you and bellow “inside and out?” You will nod and exit rapidly, praying for the safekeep of your vehicle. After a stroll around the park with your wife and offspring, perhaps a coffee at Grounded, you will return to the melee and once again stand looking vaguely about yourself, mouthing “Ford Focus?” until somebody emerges to take your tenner and return your keys. Then you cross the road to the Park carpark where they’ve left it, check the numberplate and drive carefully home.

At least that is how it’s been for the past few years. Last weekend however, I noticed a creeping service-industry legitimation of the melee. For a start, it has acquired a sign and thereby a name: Diamond Car Wash. Even more alarmingly, it has sprouted a professionally-printed menu, with different price bands according to the size of the vehicle. The next stage is, I suppose, a till. Then uniforms, then a website, then health and safety, then expansion. Then they’ll stop washing cars themselves and hire employees, then they’ll get fat and lazy and buy big houses in Kingswood and wash their own cars for fun on a Sunday while their uni-educated kids hang around in Clifton where nobody washes their cars because they’re too bohemian and good luck to all of them, why not, its really none of my business.

12 comments:

worm said...

next time you go there, leave some documents on the passenger seat that allude to you being some sort of immigration official. You'd either get a totally brilliant massive discount or just a stab to the face.

malty said...

The Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird branch of your automotive wasser manipulators are impossible to identify, vaguely Romanian with vaguely Ukrainian overtones, vaguely Polish/Croatian/Ugandan accents, they are a cheery bunch who cheerfully charge £35 for a 'full valet', for that amount of dosh I would expect the inclusion of a hair shampoo and the toenails cut. Wash the motor? that's what the rain's for man.

Ford Focus eh? don't buy the new one, the entire team of chassis engineers who made yours the success it is were head hunted by Volkswagen as were most of the engine geeks. Funny mob, Ford, Audi spent more money developing the A2 cup holders than Ford spent developing the entire Focus dashboard.

Brit said...

I've got the 2001 Zetec 1.8 diesel, never had a problem with it. When it's finally dead I'd be quite happy to swap for an identical new one... same approach as for trousers, shoes, bottles of shampoo etc.

malty said...

Never wear diesel trousers, extremely tight around the nethers.

worm said...

I may be even more young fogeyish than you, as in my mid twenties I too used to have a 2001 diesel ford focus ESTATE. Chicks were drawn like a magnet to that badboy, I can tell you.

Brit said...

Estate? You flash bastard, Worm. Bet you thought you were pretty fly, cruisin' round the 'hood in that ride.

malty said...

Well Brit as you've missed out on this one a Focus it be.

Gaw said...

A blind spot for cars and flowers. Does the people-watching drown everything else out (apart from the dead animals, of course)?

Brit said...

Pretty much, Gaw.

Mark said...

Interesting. I've never seen anyone washing anything anywhere in this town, other than winders which seems something of a passion among the locals. I do enjoy washing my bike and rather enjoy smiling at suspicious-looking passers-by on their way to do battle over the smoked salmon counter at Marks & Spenser.

My theory is that the number of Visigothic car washers available in any town is in inverse proportion to the number of kebab establishments. This place is overrun with kebabbery including a hefty flying kebab squad in vans and caravans. Hence, I feel sure, streets full of dusty cars.

malty said...

Here's a puzzle, wot is the plural of car wash?
Car washes
Cars wash
Car washers
Car washii

Willard said...

"Here's a puzzle, wot is the plural of car wash?"

Rainwater.