Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Wednesday, 3 October 2012
Other worldly shopping
I was discussing the method of fixing the scagliola panels to the backing boards in such a way that they could be adjusted dead-level to each other, when my glamorous assistant said, "What you need is 'Herculite Fibre-Fix'. It's brilliant, and will do just the job you want it to".
So I consulted the magic map and made my way back down Diagon Alley to the mysterious shape-shifting shop which - to my relief - was in pretty much the same place as I last found it. I went into the shop and the elderly shop-keeper made his way out from the shadows when he heard the door creak open and closed.
"I want some 'Herculite Fibre-Fix', please", I said, and he stared into the middle distance a while before replying, "I don't believe I have ever heard of such a thing. Have you bought it here before?"
I assured him that although I had not, my glamorous assistant had, and he had assured me that it was perfect for the job I had in hand.
"I am sorry Sir, but we have never stocked such a product, but we may have some cement-based powders which may well serve the same purpose."
Having informed him that I had to use a plaster-based adhesive, I bid him 'good day' and retraced my tracks through the wild Wiltshire countryside, back to my workshop.
A few days later, I told my glamorous assistant about this futile shopping trip and he - once again - assured me that the mysterious shop did indeed sell the stuff, as he had bought some of it there only a matter of weeks previously. So yesterday I went back to the place, and the elderly assistant loomed out of the shadows and greeted me without any sign of recognition.
"Hello. I would like a 25 kilo bag of 'Herculite Fibre-Fix, please."
"Certainly Sir," he said, "It is wonderful stuff - I use it all the time for all sorts of things."
There used to be a shop in nearby Marshfield - a windswept and desolate strip of a village on a hill near the outskirts of Bath. This shop was even stranger than the one mentioned above because - for around 50 years, the window display had never changed, nor had the stock inside it.
One day about 60 years ago, the man who owned the general store opened as usual in the morning, but decided that he would no longer sell any of the goods to anyone, ever again.
He continued to open the premises every morning and close it every evening - for all those decades - but if anyone came inside to buy something, he would pretend to be out of stock and send them on their way, whether they were locals or complete strangers.
The shop itself became a time-capsule, with adverts dating from the 1950s still hanging in the windows and packets of stuff which had long ceased being produced adorning it's shelves. People came from miles around just to see inside it and be turned away by the eccentric shop-keeper.
A friend of mine visited it one day, with the express intention of buying something - anything - from the old man.
He went in, and the man at the counter asked if he could help him. My friend - noticing some silk ribbon on spools behind the counter, asked for a yard of blue, silk ribbon. The shopkeeper apologised and said that they had none left in stock.
"Yes you have," my friend responded, "I can see it behind you."
The man became increasingly agitated, but eventually and reluctantly took the spool down, measured a yard of the ribbon, put it into a brown paper bag and asked my friend for a few pennies.
When he got it home and took it out of the bag, it fell apart in his hands as blue dust.