Thursday, May 20, 2010

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind

It’s been intermittently grey and wet this afternoon in Sydney and the dog and I are peering morosely at the washing which is gloomily flapping around on the Hills Hoist. For my non- Australian readers a Hills Hoist is the great Australian invention, the rotating clothes line which is a feature of most Australian back gardens. In our household the Hills Hoist actually doubles as a dog roundabout as one of the animal’s more irritating habits is towel surfing, a pursuit in which he takes a flying leap and swings round, jaws clamped onto the fabric in an ecstasy of canine pleasure. This is the simple explanation for why so many towels and bedding in our household are attractively toothmarked and ripped.

Attitudes and protocol re hanging out your washing seem to differ by country. When we lived in New York State I never spotted people hanging washing outside, it appeared to be a cultural taboo in our bit of Westchester. Given I grew up in Glasgow, where the comparatively rare sunny day had us rushing to hang out the washing, I couldn’t let all that American sunshine go to waste and I rigged up a clandestine line, but I was very careful how I used it as I felt it could be social death to be caught airing the family undies. Dog surfing apart, I have to confess to a sense of pleasure when I see the washing drying on the line, I feel I am doing my bit for the environment and I just love the feel and smell of clothes that have been blowing briskly in the sunshine for a couple of hours.

Have just looked at the Hills Hoist website – to check on the positioning of the apostrophe and discovered one of the founders of the company is a Ling, which is my married surname. Ling is a comparatively rare Caucasian surname, though much more common throughout Asia, so you can imagine the confusion caused when we lived in Hong Kong. The very blond Drama Queen No. 1 still gets odd looks from immigration authorities around the world when she rocks up with Ling, born in Hong Kong, on all her travel documents. I am however delighted to be linked, no matter how tenuously, to a man who had a hand in creating an Australian icon and will smile even more fondly upon the Hills Hoist.


  1. I don't think I've ever seen a washing line in my 20 years of living in the States. I know for a fact that you're not allowed one in some areas and in Chicago, when it's warm enough to dry the clothes, (as opposed to freezing them solid) it's actually usually humid and therefore nothing dries.
    My kids have very warm associations with washing lines since they hang washing out at Grandma's in England.

  2. I love that you have a Hills Hoist, my Mum used to hang the washing on some Victorian contraption in our pantry - we lived in an old 19th Century house - coal fires, terry not very eco tumble dryer works overtime.

    Like Expat Mum unless in private gardens, you very rarely see washing lines in London. xx