Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Four Candles Please

When I went to Pilates last night I spotted something very familiar propped up in Kate’s hallway: a dirty rectangle of wood about the size of a kitchen-cupboard door and screwed onto it, in a haphazard arrangement, were a random selection of filthy door handles. We looked at each other, “General Woodwork” we said simultaneously. Kate had been to the closing down sale of our favourite shop of all time. (When I say ‘favourite’ I mean most visited. My favourite shop of all time is a vintage designer boutique in the cloisters of the Palais Royale Gardens – not having the guts to even enter the shop I have only respectfully admired the exquisite mannequins through the glass, expecting to be asked to move on at any moment.) 
The General Woodwork Stores on the High Street has been there forever and with stock from every decade of the last century gathering dust out the back it has been the most perfect place to find all the trimmings that we have ever needed to accessorise this outlandish place. A sturdy, beautifully carved piano leg, covered in cobwebs made the perfect newel post; funky, gilded door handles from the 70’s were just right for the Barry White bedroom; the biggest, brass, Victorian door knob for the front door; pretty, lemon-yellow, plastic handles for a 60’s kitchen; a whacking great big swathe of tree trunk came in handy for a shelf: they had everything you could dream of and more. Some years ago someone had painstakingly and unwittingly created works of art by taking one of every fixture or fitting in the shop and fixing it to the boards that lined the walls and it was one of these that Kate had procured and brought home.      
Unlike the Paris Boutique the staff at General Woodwork were not the least intimidating – three old boys, I think they were brothers owned the store and they never laughed at us once: smiled a little maybe when we explained some hair-brained scheme that we had in mind for, say, suspending a very heavy beaded curtain from the cornice or dismantling and reassembling an old cupola in the back garden. They’d listen patiently and then say
“I’m with you Brian... one of these might do the trick.”
GWS didn’t just sell fancy stuff: hundreds of tiny flat- headed, copper nails to fix the lead roof back onto the cupola; one extra large hook for the hanging chair; a yard and a half of medium-gage chain for said chair; plastic, recessed handles for sliding doors; hinges, nails, screws, bolts and brackets: anything and everything you could possibly need for any DIY project and the nice thing was nothing came in rigid plastic packaging and you didn’t have to buy ten of something if you only wanted one. Oh, and somewhere out the back they even had a box of dog biscuits to keep the whippets happy. We will really miss it.
Kate says “What are you going to do without it?”
“Move” I reply. “Sell up and move to a modern flat where everything’s already done.”
And I have just the place in mind…
Up at the reservoir they’ve built a 29 storey tower block with views all over London and beyond. Brian and I are going to have a look at an apartment there this afternoon up on the 23rd floor. It’s still a hard hat area as they haven’t been fully kitted out yet. Perhaps I can request a 70s style kitchen and an 80s dining room and I’d really like a 50s bedroom and a Mad Men lounge. Hmmm... maybe a new build isn’t for me after all.
Dog walking at the reservoir yesterday.

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