Monday, 31 October 2016

Hardwired for Hardware

  Apart from the discovery that red toadstools aren't just something from fairy tale illustrations, one of the best things about having found the disused railway line to Leiston is Coopers Hardware. I went there for fly papers.  You can buy the spray next door at Solar, but I want to watch the buzzers die.
  'The fly papers are upstairs, sir.  End of the aisle just before the chemicals,' said just the right person to be running a hardware shop - lined, weary, cheery and giving off that air that would make you trust him to know about everything from building a retro-but-Eco-privy; through the correct whisking consistency for carpet shampoo; to not, for the love of God, trying to cut costs by using varnished flour and water mixed to regrout along the side of the bath. (My nan knows who she is...well, she would except she's long gone to the Eternally Wednesday Bingo Club in the sky)
  I found the fly papers and then - as you do - decided I needed a sieve, a set of coasters and an oven glove. 'Sir, let me relieve you of those,' he said, as I stood happily clutching them and scanning the shelves for more nice things.
  'I love a shop like this,' I told him. 'So does Delores Deluxe.  There isn't a one of these in Aldeburgh any more, for when you do the Festival.  And what if you need those last minute raffle prizes; reels of cotton, spray starch (because your tulle's lost its bounce) or a magic marker?  When do you not need a magic marker? We were always over in the Robert Dyas in High Holborn pre the half in everything but the false eyelashes. Disappointed in Aldeburgh...except we did get to see the man on the souped up motorbike who lives over here in Leiston and is rumoured to be on the drugs.  And the woman who was in My Fair Lady.  See, as they say: if you just look around you when you're starving in the desert, you'll always find honey to spread on when you're forced to eat the darkling beetle. Oh, Lord...sorry. I have actually been out in the last six months, too. Friday. Walberswick. Concert.  Lovely spread.  Fishfinger wraps and brandy.  Apparently, the vicar on the bill with me found my trill in "Rule, Britannia" discombobulating. The concert was in aid of the Seaman's Mission.  The Walberswick Village Hall is right on the sea, so it was all nicely borderline site-specific. You could
have site specific entertainment in here. If you dress up in colander hats and t-towel pashminas you can be the Women's Auxiliary. Lot of that here in the war.  One of the past members, Margaret, was
able to point out to me where the train track had turned sharply to go down the backs of the houses. "Lot of townsfolk shamed back then into keeping up better appearances knowing the hobknobs for Aldeburgh would go puffing past with a view directly in.  Mrs Wilson would hear the whistle and take her washing in for the duration of it passing and then peg it back out again.  Course you might just have thought that was on account of the smut coming from the engine. No. Pride. Wouldn't have had back then clearly in sight all these old cars or shit bestrewn dovecotes or the recycling.  You heard the ghost story? Like you, someone was walking the abandoned railway and they heard the unmistakable sound of chuffing. Behind them.  Course nothing there.  But when they turned back
frontwards, there reflected in the top window of that last terraced house was the train now coming steaming up on them.  Broad daylight and at the right time it would have according to its old timetable."'
  Walking back along the track with my Coopers purchases, I had my usual look up at that window. Nothing.
  Though I was followed quite a lot of the way by a black cat, and saw a lost lamb and a pair of
eagerly lesbian blackbirds.


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