This is Gertie. She died this month. I only found out today, and missed even the chance of raising a glass in her memory at her local, the Boston Arms.
Gertie did the weekend shifts at Tufnell Park's launderette. I used to pop in every couple of weeks or so with a big IKEA blue bag of sheets and stuff - and she did a service wash. Always friendly and welcoming, though not exactly talkative - 'you're early today', 'hot enough for you', 'what time will you be back', not much more than that.
For quite a while, I didn't even know her name. Then one Saturday, a young man was there, running the place. 'Where's the regular woman?', I asked. 'Oh, Gertie's not well.' Happily she recovered from that bout of illness, and was at work until quite recently. When I popped in earlier this month, there was someone new - 'Gertie's not too good', she said.
Today, I discovered that Gertrude O'Sullivan has died. A distinctly grainy photo, which briefly was on display at the Boston Arms, is now propped up on a bench at her launderette. I asked if she had any family. "They're in Ireland", I was told.
Let me say one last time: thanks, Gertie!
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