Washday Wiles by Margaret Graham


Washday Wiles

by Margaret Graham


Monday was always regarded as washday, but as far as my Grandmother was concerned, it was a new film release at the cinema. I was recovering from a bout of measles and so as a treat my grandmother asked me if I would like to go with her to see  'Singin' in the Rain'.
            We queued up and eventually got two seats in the front stalls. I was absolutely enraptured with the singing and dancing, and was sorry when the film ended. As we walked back home humming the tunes, my Grandmother suddenly gave a gasp as she remembered she hadn't done her washing.
            My Grandfather came home from work in the shipyard and went out into the backyard to get washed. When he came back in he shouted at my Grandmother. 
             "Maggie! Why is the washing not done?" My Grandmother sheepishly replied that because the wee one, namely me, was in need of a wee treat she took me to the pictures. Well, according to Grandfather it wasn't a good enough excuse and in future the washing had to be done before he came home from work. I looked up at my Grandmother and she winked at me as she replied, "Yes dear" even as my Grandfather was still reprimanding her in the background and knowing full well that next week if there were another good film on she would be in her normal haunt.
            True enough, off she went as usual the following Monday and on her return journey, just as she was approaching her neighbour Mrs Ritchie's house, she stopped to relate the telling off she had received from the previous week. Mrs Ritchie looked over my Grandmother's shoulder and caught sight of Grandfather as he neared the bottom of the street.
             "My God, Maggie! Here's your John and you're in for it the day again."
            "Keep him talking Sadie, I'll see you later" my Grandmother shouted back to Mrs Ritchie, as she hurried to get home before Grandfather. Hastily she gathered up all the washing, took it out into the back garden, methodically turned all the garments outside in, pegged them on the washing line, and put the clothes' pole up. The washing was blowing like banners when the sound of the key turned in the front door.
            My Grandmother, looking the picture of innocence and humming to herself as she stirred the pot of stew she had made earlier in the day, waited as Grandfather made his way to the backyard for his ritual wash at the outside tap. He was still drying his hands and arms, as he came in nodding approvingly.
             "See! I told you if you stayed out of the pictures you could be like the rest of the women in the street and have your washing done at the right time."
            Smiling, she just answered. "Yes, dear."
            My Grandfather never ever knew that washday in his household was Tuesday.

Margaret Graham