I normally use a hand car wash service in Llanelli on Friday afternoons
just before I go and see my in-laws. You see the thing is they
have a fervent belief in a shiny, clean car and I feel that if
I have it cleaned within a mile of where they live I would have
to be very unlucky to have had it splashed with mud in that short
At my age I would have to call the car washers a ‘young
couple’ and they are Hungarian. They keep up a Hungarian
chatter the whole time they are washing the car and I sometimes
wonder when they will run out of things to say. Don’t get
me wrong, they are charming and they do an excellent job.
But I can’t go there this week and my car needs to be clean
for Friday, it is now Wednesday afternoon. I was just returning
home from some shopping when I realised this and was almost resigned
to washing it myself when I remembered the one just up the road.
I used to go there a few years ago but it was always busy, abrupt
and hurried. So I had changed my allegiance to one on the other
side of town, bit out of the way but they were friendly and I
went there for a couple of years. Then it was sold to someone
else and from that time you could not sit in the car, you had
to wait in the office/café. The new owner was a bit flash
and spoke loudly into his mobile phone generously informing the
world what a big businessman he was. I don’t mind anyone
thinking that but I’m not keen to hear it shouted about.
He started a loyalty scheme which involved having a membership
card and of course they made a record of my mobile phone number.
The next thing I was getting text messages each time he thought
of his next good idea and he got me just a little bit irritated.
Which is why I transferred my most valuable custom over to the
Hungarian quarter of Llanelli.
Anyway, having taken you on an excursion of my car wash haunts
of the past few years I shall now return you to today and my visit
to the car wash up the road.
I drive onto the forecourt and an irritated young man furiously
guides me into almost the spot that he wanted me in. He was not
a happy man. He was in charge of the jet wash whilst an apprentice
was being trained to squirt whatever liquid they squirt onto your
car. I think it is possible that he was also secretly under training
to be an irritated young man.
Through the wet windscreen I can see the board that tells us what
the prices are for various services and I decided to read it whilst
I was waiting, I thought it might introduce him to the concept
of nonchalance. When you read a price list you have to accept
that it is not exactly constructed as a novel, there is no introduction
of characters then plot followed by a satisfactory conclusion.
It does take your mind off other things going on around you though.
I peer at the blurred letters and can make out the word ‘shampoo’
but the word underneath is a bit of a mystery, further down there
is another word that I can’t make out and also on the top
of the next column. I decide to give myself a challenge –
can I work it all out before they leather the windscreen?
The fully qualified irritated young man sets about my car with
the jet wash and it struck me that a jet wash is ideal for getting
rid of your aggression, it just might take some time with him
Suddenly his jetting is finished, my door opens and his face is
demanding “Yes?” I am a bit stunned, my mind is still
on the mystery words and he has burst unexpectedly into my thoughts.
“Yes,” he says again “what do you want?”
I am thinking that as he has already set about washing my car
then the question seems superfluous and he sees my hesitation
as an indication that I am either an imbecile or simply that I
cannot speak English.
He raises his hand and spreads his fingers and says loudly “Five?”
Foreigners think that by shouting loudly anyone can understand
what they are saying. I say nothing but I nod my head in agreement
just so that he thinks I can’t understand English. I wouldn’t
want him to think I’m an imbecile!
‘Five’ means just a wash and dry so I am pointed to
the tent where they dry the car. Luckily it is right in front
of the price board. The windscreen is leathered dry and I can
see the board clearly now and one mystery is solved. The word
after ‘shampoo’ is ‘conditioning’ and
I try to supress a giggle, it wasn’t easy. The next mystery
bit was ‘Leter dry’ and it had an asterisk next to
it. I look to the bottom of the board where another asterisk explains
‘Leter dry - method of drying car’. I’d never
heard of it but there you are, I don’t know everything.
There was just one mystery left – the words ‘Dash
and Glar’ and as cleaning the interior glass was already
on the list in perfect English I was mystified as to what Glar
My car now dried I head off for home with my brain still trying
to sort out these mysteries. It is dangerous to laugh at the wheel
so I had to strictly control myself when I realised the answer.
I still have no idea what Glar means but I can explain ‘Leter
This is what I think happened.
They got a quote for a price board from a signwriter and, the
quote being accepted they then write down the prices they want
put on the board. The signwriter doesn’t turn a hair (ha
ha) when he comes across the words ‘Shampoo' and 'Conditioner’
but queries the words ‘Leter dry’.
“As a matter of interest,” the signwriter asks “what
is Leter dry?”
This would have annoyed the fully qualified irritated young man
who then snaps “It’s a method of drying your car!”
“I’ve never heard of that’” says the signwriter
and confers with his staff. “They haven’t either.”
The fully qualified irritated young man then shouts “Don’t
you British understand your own language?”
The signwriter suggests the inclusion of an asterisk and an explanation
on the bottom of the board and the fully qualified irritated young
man thinks it is a good idea, after all these Britishers don’t
seem to be very familiar with their own language.
Have you worked it out yet?
‘Leter dry’ is the fashionable way to say ‘Leather
‘Glar’ will remain a mystery, I’m not going
to ask him but if you’re brave enough do let me know!