Flo is coming a day earlier, so we set out early to B & Q, the national DIY company originally set up by Messrs Block & Quayle in Southampton in 1969. Marks & Spencer’s, is of course, another large national outlet known by its founders’ initials. Our high streets are also graced by C & A and H & M stores; the first being the first name initials of the Dutch entrepreneurs who founded the store in 1841, and the second from the surnames of Swedes Hennes & Mauritz in 1947. C and A were Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer. As Michael Caine famously claims never to have said, ‘not a lot of people know that’.
Now, where was I? Ah, yes. B & Q.
We went in search of curtain rails and the missing screws from the door knobs that fell off on 31st March. Jackie found the curtain rails whilst I rummaged through rows and rows of screws, bolts and nuts seeking something that might possibly fit the bar I had in my pocket. I only found two fittings that might vaguely serve the purpose. Both were too long. I reported to one of the check-out desks to ask if they had any more. The helpful young lady put out an SOS on the tannoy asking someone from hardware to come and assist me.
Now there’s a word to conjure with. Tannoy.
Tannoy is a Scottish -based loud speaker and public address system manufacturing company. Never having any idea who has installed the particular system we are listening to, we always call such a facility ‘the tannoy’. Just as a vacuum cleaner is always a ‘hoover’ and a ball-point pen ‘a biro’. Even Google, the search engine that provided me with the information on Tannoy, is now a noun to be found in dictionaries.
Ah, yes. B & Q.
Clive soon appeared and rummaged, equally unsuccessfully, with me. He announced that they didn’t do them, and suggested Castles, ‘an old-fashioned ironmongers’. Jackie and I didn’t know where Castles was, but she had googled ironmongers the night before, and knew there was one in Lymington. So off we drove to Lymington, which, incidentally is in the opposite direction to Christchurch. There Jackie, having done her usually successful google walk didn’t quite get a turning right in the car, and moreover wasn’t sure of the name. We ended up at Crystals at the far end of the High Street. It wasn’t possible to park there, so Jackie continued on round the one-way system to Waitrose, where she went shopping whilst I back-tracked to the hardware shop. There a very helpful young woman directed me to Central Southern Security just past the railway station at the other end of the street. I knew this because we had passed it earlier. So off I went on foot the way we had come in the car.
Another helpful individual, this time a man, hunted among his screws for something that might fit. He explained, as had the young woman earlier, that these screws normally came as a set with the knobs, and there wasn’t much call for them these days. Also they had an old kind of thread. He didn’t find anything suitable, but he did send me on to a real ironmongers called Knights, opposite the library. And there I struck lucky and bought four imperial screws at 20p each. The old thread must be an imperial measure.
Then I had to find my way back to Waitrose car park. I realised that I was probably now in a direct line to the car park and should not have to retrace my steps back to and along the High Street. I had exchanged greetings with a traffic warden earlier, and suddenly spotted him again. Now, who else but an ambulant traffic warden would know the quickest way there? He did, and directed me through a car park; along a couple of cuts, or back alleys; and across a cemetery, to Southampton Road where I would be ‘near enough there’. Miraculously, I followed the route and ended up at Waitrose just as Jackie was emerging with a loaded trolley. This was handy because I was beginning to think that a Modus in that forest of cars was like a needle in a haystack.
Jackie rather kicked herself for not remembering the ironmonger’s name.
Becky and Flo arrived early this evening and the four of us dined at Elephant Walk Indian restaurant in Highcliffe. A little more upmarket than others we have enjoyed, the food here was superb, but we had to wait for it. The service was friendly, but one had the feeling the two women on duty were rather overstretched.