The Almost Anarchy of Car-Washing ?

SONY DSCFirst post in this new blog and we are starting off with a fairly sideways looking idea.

In the coming months I am going to attempt to pursue research into the rise and fall of washing your car by hand in the UK.

This research question is part of a wider discussion of space and society are affected by our values and choices.

It is the result of a fairly simple situation; my rented house doesn’t have an outside tap, so I have no hose, making it very awkward to effectively wash my car.

I was raised to wash cars yourself by hand. This is something my dad has always done and the ritual has stuck with me. I like doing it. It has a sort of ‘zen and the art of …’ feel about it.

But without a tap and hose I am struggling.

On the face of it this might appear to be a very small problem, but upon reflection I wonder whether it is suggestive of a much wider issue.

How many people today wash their car themselves by hand?

From childhood memories I seem to remember that the weekend was full of adults washing cars outside their houses, but this social ritual appears to have almost completely disappeared in recent decades.

What are the reasons for this I wonder?

A notable issue is the distinct lack of space and taps allowed for in new home developments in the UK. We are literally building homes where you cannot wash your car. Is this a conscious decision, or simply something that has happened without notice?

Is it even really a problem at all? The proliferation of hand-wash services at abandoned petrol stations and car lots across the country are seemingly constantly busy with people who are willing to pay other people (many of them hard working migrants) to wash their car for them. Is this simply part of the wider cultural acceptance to pay other people to do work for us, like having our shopping delivered to us rather than leave the house?

Against the overwhelming sense that washing your car by hand yourself is a waste of time, does this suggest that the act of still doing so is a socio-political act that runs counter to the existing hegemony? Is washing your own car by hand an almost anarchistic act?

As a very first step on this process I am going to try and push a citizen science data gathering operation using google polls and social media to gather information on whether the UK still washes their cars by hand.

I am going to collect postcode data and map this information onto the UK, and this will give me a project upon which to develop my GIS mapping skills, so it will hopefully be a fun and informative process in a number of ways.

Once I get all the systems in place I will launch the research here and via twitter, but in the mean-time I am just happy to have started working on this new research and to have placed the first post on this blog.


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