Surbiton Washerama

Let me tell you about my childhood,

Let me lie on this divan.

If you sit comfortably for me

I’ll tell you a story

That mouldeth and maketh this man.


Let’s go on a journey.

Let me take you by the hand.

And lead you through the suburban streets

To the stain on my parents’ sheets

Where my life began.


Well my mum and dad were Jewish

And we all went to the shul,

But for reasons only known to them

They decided they would send

Their kids to the Church of England School,


Which incidentally many years later

Was turned into a synagogue;

Which goes to show you

God has a sense of humour

Unless of course you don’t believe in God.


Now every Sunday morning

My Dad he drove to the launderette

In his Mark II Vauxhall Victor,

You get the picture,

With a radio but no cassette.


And on the way he’d

Drop us at Hebrew Classes,

And believe me that’s no fun,

And as hepushed us into Cheder

He’d say “ I’ll see you later.

I’ll be back when the washing is done.”


But invariably he turned up late

With his clothes all disheveled

and his toupée not straight.


Which reminds me of a blustery day

In Bournemouth by the sea

When the wind whipped up

And blew his toupée down the street.

It got tossed in the air like the plastic bag

In “American Beauty” did

And by the time that he caught up with it,

It was useless as a wig.

It wasn’t very clever and it wasn’t very big.

Sticky tape wasn’t right;

He should have used Araldite.


But hey, I digress.

That’s another story for another time.

Where was I? Oh yes,

Let’s go back to the scene of the crime.


It’s the Surbiton Washerama.

It’s 1968.

And the washing machines are spinning,

Suburbia is swinging,

Albeit a year or so late.


And at the Surbiton Washerama

You got your powder in a little box.

While we were learning our Hebrew alphabet

Down at the launderette

My father was sorting the socks.


When in walks the femme fatale,

Such a saucy and a sassy looking gal,

She cases the joint,

She gives him the eye,

But she’s about as kosher as a Wall’s  pork pie.

Aye Aye Aye…….


As Mary Boulton leant over

The Frigidaire top loader

She looked quite dazzling

Sprinkling her Daz in.

There was nothing very frigid about her,

Not in that mini-skirt, no sir.


And as she wiggled her bum my dear dad’s loins

Became as heavy as the bag of half crown coins

That he saved for the machines

And he kept on the top of his dresser

With the crumpled up tissues and the old receipts

The Old Spice bottle and the spare hair piece

The Tallis and Tephilin

That he got for his barmitzvah;

The dog eared copies of Playboy and Parade

That my brothers and me used to borrow every day

And put back without him noticing

Which he probably did but he couldn’t say a thing.


But hey, I digress,

Where was I?

Oh yes.


Now Mary was a miner’s daughter

From the north with an impotent husband

Who could hardly string together a sentence

And was usually under the influence of

An unspecified amount of  ‘Courage Best’

Though most of it was spilled

Down the front of his vest.


She was a woman looking for affection, my dears;

My poor old dad

He hadn’t had a shag

For seven or eight years.


And even then,

My Mum,

Would lie back and think

Of Jerusalem.


Oy Vey! Oh No!

We all know which way this one’s going to go.

Bish bosh, pish posh, bit of rough, bit of posh

It’s all going to come out in the wash.


At the Surbiton Washerama there’s a bit of how’s your father

That my father’d rather no one know.


Now Mary had a friend who worked

As an assistant in the florist

In the same parade as the Surbiton Washerama.

She said: “It’s fine with me. I’ll lend you the key

For a ten bob note

I’ll keep shtum,

And that’s considerably cheaper

Than getting a room”


So every Sunday morning

In the florist on the floor

Amid the lilies and carnations

They did their fornications

While the tumble driers tumbled next door.


And the moon went through its cycles

As the moon is wont to do

But not one night did she lie awake

And think of phoning Vera Drake

The baby inside her it grew and grew


Now what about the husband

The one that fired blanks

How could he not see

Her portions getting bigger

Her belly getting thicker

Well he couldn’t be the trigger

Could he?


Would she plead immaculate conception

Like her namesake Mary did prefer

In the book that the Jews don’t mention

Well it worked for that Mary, would it work for her?


Meanwhile in our family kitchen

My mother according to our religion

Was making every kosher dish

And rolling out gefulte fish

Of eingemacht and kneidelach

And Crepelach and Shake ‘n Vac

And lighting candles, saying prayers

And all completely unawares.


And after sundown Friday night

Forbad us to turn on the light

The bulb was taken from the fridge

So it wouldn’t come on when you opened it

It’s in the Torah:

You can keep the fridge on

But don’t turn the light on


Oy Vey, that’s the truth

All that was missing was a fiddler on our roof.

Bish Bosh, pish posh,

It’s all going to come out in the wash.


One day as she folded his pyjamas

In the pocket of the top

Was a handwritten letter

That should have been written better

This is the message my poor mum  got.


It said: ‘Dear Davy

I’m carrying your baby

When are you going to tell your wife

If you don’t I swear to God I will

Have to phone the Jewish Chronicle

And they’ll print the story of your double life


Then everyone will know

Your dirty washing will be on show

There’ll be a plague on both our houses

‘Cos you couldn’t keep on  your trousers

It’s time to tell our spouses

Before my waters go’


And as she held that letter high

A tear welled in my poor mum’s eye

And from the depths of her soul came an eruption

That made Krakatoa seem like a Ladies’ Guild function


She said: Oy oy oy…………….oy veh

I’ll make him rue the day

I’ll take his chumash and his cidur

I’ll sell them to the higgest bidder

I’ll slash and burn

His yamalkes and prayer shawls

Why did he have to wallop

That wicked little Trollope

Someone should chop off

His matzah balls

When he gets home

I’m goon kill him

I’ll string him

Up by his tefillin


Well she held her breath and she counted to ten

And she thought for a minute or two and then

She said: This isn’t such a tragedy

It could work out quite well for me

Because there’s been someone I’ve been seeing

Called Harold for some bagels

And a little tête à tête

Every Sunday morning

When your dad’s at the launderette


Though the relationship is newish

He’s divorced and he is Jewish

I swear that it’s entirely innocent

He’s my knight in shining armour

Come to save me from this drama

And from the


To me he has been sent


Oy Vey, what’s to be done

This soap opera’s going to run and run

Pish posh, mish mosh,

It’s all going to come out in the wash.

At the Surbiton Washerama

They worked up quit a lather

Though it started out as good clean fun.


Now Harold was in freezer sales

And he wore dark glasses without fail

And he spoke with a mid-atlantic drawl

And he called my mother “babe”, and “doll”

And he chain smoked Disque Bleu cigarettes

And he drove a Citroen DS.

He was suave and he was smarmy

And possessed a certain charm,

There was no deal he couldn’t close

He could sell wood and nails to Jesus

And freezers

To Eskimos


She said: Harold will you rescue me?

He said: Certainly my dear,

I’m starting a new freezer scam

And you’ll be worth a few bob when the divorce comes through

And for start-up capital that will do

And if it goes tits-up, I can stitch up you

As long as you sign right here.


So me and my mum and Harold

And Adam my twin

We left the family kitchen

And climbed into his Citroen

We all eloped with him


And what became of Harold

No one can really say

But he was last seen in his old car

Being pursued by a patrol car

Southbound on the M1 motorway


And my mother said that the lesson that she’s learned

From the life that she’s led has been:

Before a girl gets married

There should be a pre-nup promise

That the husband should provide

A Washing Machine!