7 Jul 2018

7th July 2018: Special needs.


Saturday 7th 58-73F, bright and windy again. Just a modest walk to prove I can walk and hiccup at the same time. Followed by a ride to the Saturday shops. Going well on the wonderfully smooth new cycle paths, with a good tailwind. 19-20mph even without any competition from pre-pubescent, Lycra clad, beanpoles beating hard on their CF. The builder's merchants was closed at the end of the long climb into the sun!

A recent take-over has denied the customers their weekend service. Not that there was ever anybody in there. I usually ended up wandering around alone and muttering to myself. While the staff "shelf filled." Which is a derogatory term for those who deliberately ignore my presence. They still open early on weekdays so there my be a packed house at 6.30m. But only on weekdays from now on.

Once proudly independent builders supplies have been taken over by foreign, money laundering chains. It was the investment banker's deliberate Dose of Depression which killed Danish house sales and building work overnight. Now it's all bubble packs and nothing more than the standard wares in every single, big shed. But they can always "order it for you?"

I'm looking forwards to AI robot staff taking over with even less knowledge but better able to understand my pidgin dansk. They will be able to instantly translate and understand my gibberish as I struggle to explain what a wood screw or bolt looks like in Danish. The present staff just don't have the imagination to fill in the blanks. No matter how many different ways you can pronounce skrue or bolte they just don't get it.

 If only I had a smart phone I could show them a picture. "Oh yes! We can order that for you?" The stock in trade sales pitch of every, single, fully qualified, under-aged, Danish shop assistant.  I wonder they aren't taught the phrase at infant school? I've noted recently that some Danish online retailers will offer to get it for me. Why would I bother them when they have competition in the next browser hit? Or from eBay or Amazon? Assuming they will deliver for less than a re-mortgage!

Perhaps it's just as bad back in Gravely Blighted these days? It feels as if I have spent my entire life searching for the impossible. I would lecture sub-minimum wage staff at B&Q on the need for socket head screws. Preferably in other than the only length they happened to stock in cross head in their constantly vandalized, bubble packs. And could they please stock them in stainless steel? And did they have any springs? I'm a martyr to not finding springs. It's been going on for over half a century! The world badly needs more springs! But nobody listens!

It wasn't like this in my youth. There were dark and dingy, specialist outlets in the back streets. Sporting pre-industrial revolution dust on their shabby decor. They'd keep you queuing for at lest a quarter of an hour as they disappeared endlessly into a secret back room disguising what can only have been a truly vast warehouse. The staff were pre-Victorian too, of course. But they could and would always provide the impossible when it was finally your turn. The faded sales posters for once great, British manufacturing names were always interesting though always long out of date.

If you were really lucky they'd have a tasteless topless calendar from former and completely arbitrary decade. One which you could pretend not to study at length. As you wound your way inexorably  forwards to the counter built from pit sawn and re-adzed, salvaged sailing-ship's timbers. It was all very Dickensian but wonderfully well stocked if you knew exactly what to ask for.

I still wonder, when I can't sleep at night, what happened to their Alladin's Cave of priceless stock stretching back for miles into quite another century. And how, on earth, did they know what to charge? I liked the tiers of battered, loading hatches climbing vertically to seven floors or more above the now, re-routed river. The single iron pulley and hook still dangling from its oak jib.

The river once joined the canal nearby. Both would have brought the original stock on the countless, narrow barges. Now long gone and forgotten as some money launderer's glass and fascia board edifice blocks the light and bakes the unfortunate workers in their compulsory shirts and ties. The river now plundered, to and fro, by paying guests in glass-sided pirate's boats.

The commercial history was all swept away when they built the tasteless new bus station and shopping mall. You could actually buy properly seasoned wood back then. From a multi-floor emporium, knee deep in sawdust, as skilled men in greasy brown leather aprons would produce literally any size on demand in any timber species known to man.

It's lucky I'm not paranoid, but the later absence of stock has certainly taught me a great deal. Not least how to communicate politely with those only pretending to know what they are waffling on about. Plus my intimate knowledge of stock over a wide area from all too frequent failure to secure my humble needs within the retail sector. I can only blame my eternal optimism. I would often ride a round trip of 50 miles in the vain hope of stock at a specialist outlet. "But we can order it for you?"

17 more miles, not out, still hiccuping. A small bird of prey was eying me with more than casual interest from overhead on a sharp corner. Perhaps it was hoping, forlornly, that I might actually topple in a fierce side gust? So it could swoop down for a quick takeaway? No chance! I'm special, with special needs and I'm the only one in the village.

Sunday 8th July 71-73F, bright and breezy again. Still hiccuping after a sleepless night. That's four days and nights now.

Click on any image for an enlargement. 

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