Monday, November 17, 2008

One town, two hardware shops - an olfactory excursion to Shefford

Today I visited a little town that makes my home town of Dunstable - where tumble weed regularly floats down the High Street - look like the West End. It was a charming, quiet and, well, rather dull Bedfordshire town. However there was one exciting aspect - not one but two hardware shops.

I was immediately drawn to the first one I saw. Outside were yard brushes, metal watering cans and all sort of arcane paraphanalia. How I longed to go inside and sniff the wonderfully blended aromas of plant seeds, brooms, nasty solvents, nails and sandpaper. I went in (imagine bell tinkling as I open shop door) and was immediately transported to my childhood. Your average DIY shed can't compete with a hardware shop, where it feels as though you could buy anything if you just asked and the aforesaid smell wafts seductively around you.

As I made my way down the narrow aisles piled up with plugs, gardening implements and creosote, I sniffed deeply. Aaaaah, bliss! When the lady on the till asked if I needed some help I admitted I was there simply to enjoy the smell! She was unperturbed saying people often say that, it's clear my hardware shop fetish is not a lonely obsession then.

But my joy was not to stop there. Round the corner was another hardware shop that trebled up as a post-office and, er, carpet shop. Carpets, hardware and stationery - all in one place, I was in heaven. All that was needed was some dusty liquorice to make it quite perfect.

If ever I bring out a perfume it will be called Hardware Shop - I bet it would sell very well along with Petrol Station and Ironed Shirts.

This sketch from the Two Ronnies perfectly demonstrates the charm of the old fashioned British hardware shop.

1 comment:

Violet Fenn said...

Looooook, this is the hardware shop in the centre of Shrewsbury, you'd LOVE it!

You go in and it's like entering the Black Hole of Calcutta. There's stuff EVERYWHERE - hanging from the walls, ceilings, piled up on the floor, all over the place.

There's a sort of passageway through the shop made by leaving gaps in the piles of stock - you go in through one door, wander round in a higgledy piggledy fashion, then find yourself at the other door :-D

I'd definitely buy your perfume!