Today C embarked upon the process of fixing shelves into the larder…a process far more complicated than it first might appear. Each U shaped shelf needed to be manoeuvred into the cupboard and placed on top of eachother whilst there was elbow room to do so. Once in, the stack had to be scooted up the wall and balanced on C’s head whilst he attempted awkwardly to screw a baton at the lowest given height, after which he could drop one of the shelves down onto it before beginning the process again for the next shelf. Unfortunately for C I had earmarked this very day for errand running, so whilst he stood unaided with five layers of reconstituted sawdust on his crown, I was negotiating my way through a number of awkward encounters of my own.
I started my morning with a hunt for radiator covers needed, I rationalised, for O’s room as once the sofa currently stored there is rehoused in our new kitchen there will be nothing preventing him from burning himself on the roasting rad. I tried Wickes, a shop for which no other promotion or slogan is apparently necessary other than a beer-bellied sounding Eastender saying “Weeeeericccckes”. Radiator covers had been discontinued. Having not yet seen an attractive one I was only mildly disappointed…its fairly apparent you are onto a downward trend when even Wickes has stopped selling something due to poor sales. S reiterated my thinking when I recounted my day diary later.
“Forget them. Bloody awful things”
“I know…But what about in O’s room?” I asked.
“He knows the word for ‘hot’. He understands not to go near it.”
I nodded and struck them mentally off my list.
Next on my list was glass for the much cursed bedroom doors. We live, as I think I’ve mentioned before, near a retail park which boasts….if indeed one can feel proud of such a thing….a multitude of weird and wonderful discount outlets. Carpet Kingdom. Tile Style. Bathroom World and a glass company advertising itself with a scribbled red arrow and the words ‘Glass Cut to Size”. I ventured to unit 6 and chanced my luck. Making my way up some rickety stairs I was greeted at the top by a malnourished looking man.
“Er…..” He eyed me dubiously.
“Do you sell glass?” I asked.
“Yes” he replied simply
“I’m after a small glass splashback and some new panels for interior doors” I explained. ” here’s the measurements…”
“Can you bring the doors in?” he asked.
“Well….no not really.”
“We could collect them” he said helpfully
“That would be good.”
“We could do them here” he said, gesturing to a large workbench.
“Great” I said. I began reading through the measurements, all slightly different as you may remember the doors are a somewhat motley bunch with a pair bought online mixed with two existing ones and a rescued door from our old downstairs bathroom. The man started to look confused. Another guy appeared in my peripheral vision looking slightly more authoritative.
“Do you have the measurements?” he asked.
“Yes” I replied, and began to repeat them for his benefit, whilst the first guy sloped silently away. He tapped at a calculator.
“£200. For you” he said eventually.
“Oh.” I responded, taken aback at a price double what I thought it would have been. “Thanks” and I began to make a move down the stairs back into the daylight.
“To supply only” he called out after me.
“I thought you said you’d pick up the doors so you could do them here?” I said
“To measure them” he replied.
“But I have mea……ok, thanks”
With no shortage of such outlets I made my way to another, it’s interior looking mildly more professional.
“Can I help?” asked the man.
“I’m here for some splashback glass and some door panels” I replied. “I’d like a rectangle of glass for our downstairs toilet” I gave him the meagre dimensions and specified four holes, one in each corner.
“Right. What colour?” he asked.
“Clear” I replied
“Just some advice…. dust and dirt will get down behind it.” he said “or you could go for one of our painted options”
“Behind which no dust and dirt accumulates?” I asked.
“Well, its not seen behind the paint” he countered. “Those are the colours” he indicated the facing wall upon which hung a rainbow of glass squares.
“They aren’t nice colours admittedly” he added ” but there might be one you like”
“Within your range of not-very-nice colours?” I asked.
“Yes” he replied.
“Put clear” I said “for the sake of the quote”
“Neil who does prices isn’t here” he said “so I’ll get him to email you”
“Great” I replied.
Neil Who Does Prices emailed an hour or so later. His mail was quickly filed to ‘bin’. Double the previous doubled price. I cursed the blasted doors.
I was due a coffee, flapjack and baby cuddle with a friend and her newborn and sharing my passion for interiors – hers a profession – we happily talked paint samples, fireplaces and floorboards for well over two hours before I embarked on my afternoon errand running…to pick up the hinges and drop off two slightly damaged doors for repair at the kitchen company. Whilst they sanded and fixed I passed the time by heading off to my old stomping ground of Crystal Palace…recently having become known for its vintinquing potential with junk and retro shops lining its ‘triangle’. I entered one.
“Well hello there” sounded a voice from behind a tower of furniture and lighting.
“Hi” I said into the abyss.
“And how are we today?”
“Fine thanks” I answered. “Been busy?” I added in the spirit of friendliness, the tack I’d assumed we were taking.
“Yeah.” He sneered. “You are making me really busy. In fact you are cluttering up my shop”
I decided, fairly swiftly, to unclutter it.
“Thanks for visiting” he called after me as I hurried away.
Returning home I discovered, propped in the hallway, a heavy package of slate tile samples, ordered online. …a transaction conducted yesterday and blessedly free of dodgy shopkeepers. There is much to be said, I contemplated much later that evening, for the technology of the 21st Century and I flipped open the iPad, list at my elbow.