Thursday, 21 March 2013

In Stock For Immediate Delivery

Just occasionally something small can remind one of the differences in daily life and culture that one experiences when living somewhere like this. Just recently I had occasion to visit Pandeli's DIY store in the village close by, where both my wife and I never fail to receive a warm welcome, usually including a hug and the customary two-cheeked kiss.

Well, there you have one instance right away. When we lived in South Wales there was a brilliant DIY store, which you'd really have wanted to call an "ironmongers", situated in a small country town about the same distance from our house as Pandeli's store is from our home out here. I especially loved the counter over which the proprietor would serve his customers. It was a solid slab of wood (oak maybe?) which was quite evidently decades old and bore the scars to prove it. It was riven with marks and stains born of years of having had handfuls of iron nails and wood-screws placed upon it, perhaps hand tools and gardening tools, even bundles of kindling wood, which to the last time I visited the place would still be seen piled up either side of the store's entrance during the winter months. There was an ancient brass rule screwed to the surface for measuring lengths of who-knows-what, perhaps electrical cable and suchlike. The people who owned that store were always friendly and courteous, but the very idea of them calling out "Aah, kalos to! How are we today, and how is Maria, OK?" whilst they also embraced me in a bear hug and planted a kiss on both of my cheeks, would have been totally foreign. Yet just down the road out here, if I want to purchase a can of wood varnish, it'll involve such a welcome without a shadow of doubt.

Pandeli and his wife Maria are warm, humble folk for whom nothing is too much trouble. I'm also amused to see that, whenever I reach the stage where my little clutch of purchases is ready to be tallied up, the total will be worked out either on a little scrap of paper, or in my host's head and then he'll round it down a bit before declaring the sum I am to pass over in payment.

What really prompted this post though, is something quite small that nevertheless amused me, in fact elicited an audible chuckle as I ambled along the racks in search of a brass bracket or some such the other day. I often take the time to just scan the shelves and displays because quite often I'll come across something and say to myself, "Aha! I wanted one of those!". That way at least when I get home I'm less likely to curse myself for having missed an opportunity yet again to make maximum use of the visit.

So, after the usual salutations and my declaration that I needed to browse a while, I left my host and his wife to see to their cute little dog, who's by the way rather strangely but nevertheless cutely called Laura, and to greet and serve a local man, and began perusing the goods on offer. In among the reels of varying gauges of metal chain, awaiting the customer's choosing of a desired length to be cut, the dusty displays of gardening gloves and hand implements, the tubes of mastic and silicone sealant, there was something which caught my eye and had me bemused for a moment. A bunch of what looked like big brass tulips, but with no centres, was hanging "upsidedown" at about eye level. For a few seconds I stared at this strange collection, not at all sure what it was. Then it struck me, they were goat bells!!

Image courtesy of David Bell's blog, HERE.

On closer inspection I saw that they did indeed have "clappers" within them and small rings soldered to the top end, through which was threaded a length of twine to hold them in place for display purposes.

Yea, well, I suppose someone may argue that in deepest Cumbria or the furthest reaches of West Wales I may have found something similar. But I bet a penny to a pound that they're not on the computer's stock list at your local B&Q or Home Depot all that often.

Call me daft but, with all the goats that wander the hills on a Greek island, it hadn't dawned on me until that moment that the goatherds had to buy their new bells somewhere!

Fork handle anyone? (By the way, you'll only get that last comment if you remember a particular old comedy sketch on UK TV from the seventies.)


  1. Trevor Mcilveen21 March 2013 at 03:33

    John. You mean this classic 2 Ronnies sketch

    1. This is my favourite:

  2. I love that 2 Ronnies sketch it is so well done and I do not know how they don't start giggling!


  3. Great little story! But what happened to the last one..............someone mention libel?!