Londonist Interviews...London Urban Ironing Collective

By M@ Last edited 143 months ago
Londonist Interviews...London Urban Ironing Collective

File this one under 'what the f*ck'.


Hello. Please introduce yourselves, and your cause.

We're the London Urban Ironing Collective. Our parents were diagnosed with Cancer in December 2006, so we decided to raise money for Cancer Research UK using the medium of ironing. We're asking Londoners to suggest well known locations where they'd like to see us carrying out Textile Crease Management (TCM). They donate money to Cancer Research UK on our website. make a suggestion as to what they'd like us to do, we do it and post the photographic proof.

What's the most barmy request you've fulfilled?

In boxers in a gay sex shop in Soho was interesting. Trying to maintain a professional poise while facing an advert for the 'Buttplug Challenge' was always going to be fun. In a sarong outside Buckingham Palace was also weird. We were concerned about MI5 snipers. We've been asked to do it as a roped off exhibit in the Tate but as yet the press office have refused to return our calls. Frankly, we're baffled as to why. We also have to do it outside the 'Women and Equality' HQ in a T-shirt reading "This is a woman's job". That'll be fun.

Extreme ironing is a worldwide movement, isn't it? Who the hell came up with that idea?

Extreme Ironing was set up by Phil 'Steam' Shaw from Leicester in 1997 and is described as 'a danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt.' They iron up cliffs and while scuba diving, for example. There have been copy cats, like us, and pale imitations such as the Urban Housework project. We do Urban Ironing as we get vertigo and scuba opportunities are a bit scarce in London. We'd never consider joining the Urban Housework project though. Splitters. All they do is dust.

Do you really iron? Like, where do you get your power from?

We are fully regulated professionals and always endeavour to carry out our duties to an internationally recognised standard. Unfortunately, London's tourist attractions generally don't have any public electricity sockets. We think this is probably discriminatory. It's also quite inconvenient as it does have an impact on effective TCM. We're considering developing a solar-powered carbon-neutral iron as a solution. In the meantime, we're just going to continue to stand around and confuse tourists.

Which iron do you find is the top sport performance one?

The Rowenta Advancer is our favourite. The Microsteam400 platinum soleplate provides an altogether tougher, smoother surface and incredible glide, the 400 steam holes provide perfect steam distribution and a high precision tip delivers steam to those really hard to reach areas. However, for ironers with less cutting edge irons, we would advise the use of the spray function rather than the steam system. Steaming can often spread accumulated dirt from the water directly onto your clothes, especially in hard water areas.

Once you reach your fundraising total, what next? Lobby to get the sport into the 2012 Olympics?

It’s a possibility, but ideally we'd like to organise a Ironing for Democracy event in Trafalgar Square. We'd like to use the power of Ironing to highlight the erosion of civil liberties in the UK. We were threatened with the police when we attempted to iron in Trafalgar Square following one request. A breach of Health and Safety regulations, if you can believe it. We're increasingly having to use guerrilla ironing tactics to complete our tasks before the authorities intervene. Freedom to iron on an ad hoc basis without being jailed is a fundamental human right. Probably.

We've got a request. We'll give you £30 if you dress up like a lion and take your board to Syon Park, Brentford. While working your way through a basket of clothes you have to sing 'Iron like a lion in Syon'. Are you game?

Well, yes. But if the request costs us more to do that the donation, it kind of defeats the purpose. How much does a lion outfit cost to hire these days? We'll do it for £100? £60? And some starch? Go on.....

Last Updated 18 May 2007