I believe I have the best dry cleaners in East London. He doesn't charge too much (it's cheaper if you don't need the overnight service), he gets the job done beautifully and quickly, and he doesn't mind if you pay him in small change. He's also a warm, urbane and charming man and we have wonderful little philosophical chats whenever I drop-off and pick-up.
In keeping with British etiquette (bearing in mind that he hails from Pakistan and I was raised on the Continent) we still don't know each other's names but I know he's a muslim and he knows I'm an actress and that I own several pairs of Thai trousers (the ones that are open on the sides and wrap around and tie in the front and the back). We talk about all manners of things: the weather, London pollution, fabrics...
Over the last few years, I've learnt all manners of things about the dry cleaning business: the machines make the building very hot and humid so working conditions are worse in the summer time because you can't cool things down by leaving the shop door open. Winter is good for business because when it rains people get the back of their trousers splattered. London pollution (in particular on the tube) leaves a greasy film on clothing which means more frequent dry cleaning. English men's habit of not carrying an umbrella means that they ruin their suit jackets when they get soaked. Apparently it warps the padding and wrecks the shape - especially around the shoulders - and it's pretty much impossible to fix.
Today, we talked about the weather (which has been steadily improving since the horrendous downpours of Monday) and the weather forecast (fair for the next 2 days) and came to the conclusion that an optimistic weather forecast is probably the only bit of the news bulletin that we still believe in. Everything else being the result of spin, propaganda, and bias. I told you, it's philosophical chat, not chit chat.