Friday, 4 December 2009

Cloth encounters

It's now three weeks until Christmas Day, and the tills are ringing with all the gusto of yuletide bells. Except that tills don't ring any more; they kind of spit and splutter and refuse point blank to do anything without a barcode. And it seems that I always manage to choose the one item on the shelf that doesn't have a barcode. But it was fine. John Prescott, the former deputy Prime Minister, was on the till at B and Q in Eastbourne, and he seemed more than equal to the task of keying in the product information manually, thus enabling me to take home, and install, a brush-type internal letterbox flap to keep the sea breezes at bay. Strange how these celebrities keep appearing in the shops of East Sussex.

Eastbourne was rather crowded on Wednesday. I'm not sure why, but I always feel somewhat resentful about this. What are all these people doing, taking my parking spaces and filling the shops? I enquired aloud. Haven't they got jobs to go to? Why are they there during the day? But I was quickly reminded by Mrs. H that I was, of course, part of the problem. In an attempt to engage my interest in something other than the crowdedness of the shops, she took me to a linen emporium.

In truth, it was a linen shop, rather than an emporium. And it wasn't crowded. I very quickly discovered why. There are very few shops (other than those selling commodes or surgical supports) that are as stultifyingly dull as linen shops. The shop window display indicated that it was, indeed, Christmas by displaying novelty yuletide tea towels featuring the Jolly Old Gent, snowmen, reindeer, and all manner of other seasonal motifs. There was also a smattering of Christmas stockings, ready to be filled with oranges, nuts and...aww, who am I kidding! But the best bits were inside the shop...

The place was full of curtain poles and blinds, tie-backs, tea cosies, bedding, net curtains; in fact, just about everything linen-y. But tea towels seem to be the staple of this particular shop. There were large metal cages full of them, all at extraordinarily low prices. Perhaps tea towels will have some sort of role to play if ever nuclear war threatens, and the government advises us to wet them and use them to cover our heads. If so, I'll be there to avail myself of their three for a pound offer. Further cages were dotted about the shop, containing towels, duvet covers, and something called a 'Jane Rug'. Jane Rug seemed to me like a marvellous name. Stick another 'g' on the end and it becomes a Dickens character! Persuade the Americans to use Jane Rugg instead of Jane Doe in their cop programmes! I told Mrs. H as much, but she was preoccupied with an orangey-red throw that she'd taken a fancy to. Not for herself, you understand, but for a friend's Christmas gift. Now, I'd always thought of 'throw' as a verb, and here they were, this linen shop, using it as a noun. But this use of nouns as verbs and vice versa seems to rear its head quite a bit at this time of year. Which of us hasn't heard someone say, 'I'm going to marzipan the cake tomorrow', quite oblivious to the fact that marzipan is a noun? I decided to keep these particular thoughts to myself. Until now, that is.

Boredom does strange things to a man. So, in the listlessness of despair (this phrase copyright Jerome K Jerome) I started to use the objects in this shop as puns in song titles...

Duvet know it's Christmas?
A Question of Valance (alright, so it's an album title - but this is my game!)
Nice day for a white bedding
I'm linen on an lampost
Long Towel Sally
Sheet Child of Mine
The Throw must go on
Anything by Curtains Mayfield

Probably just as well I didn't start on film titles. After all, who could forget The Towelling Inferno? Or The Counterpane of Monte Christo? Or GI Jane Rugg? Or even Who Shot Liberty Valance? Sorry; the last one was just too far-fetched.

My frankly rather pointless reveries were brought to a close when Mrs. H decided that The Throw wasn't quite the thing, and determined to take us off to Debenhams where, I believe, these items are called bedspreads.

An encounter with a retired politician; twenty minutes of punning; a look at some of Eastbourne's finest bedding. I can't remember when I had a better day...


Madame DeFarge said...

There's No Business Like Throw Business? Which may sum up the whole experience. I'm impressed by your fortitude. Mrs H is a lucky gal indeed.

mo.stoneskin said...

"What are all these people doing, taking my parking spaces and filling the shops?"

Story of my life mate. That's also why I don't enter any shop between September and April.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Why were the teatowels in cages? Are they ferocious and dangerous?

chris hale said...

MDF - Darn! Missed that one! As to Mrs. H being lucky, I think long-suffering is a rather better description!

Mo - Hmm...I'll have to try that one next year! BTW, how did the move go?

Raph - Oh yes. Tea towels - indeed, any kind of linen - can be deadly in the wrong hands!

Derrick said...

Hi Chris,

Clearly the tills of Eastbourne are ringing a sweeter tune than some in Melrose!! A cheer for Mrs H getting you into ye olde linen shoppe. How was Mistress Rugg?

Terri said...

I know I'm not alone when I say thanks for not keeping "these particular thoughts" to yourself!

chris hale said...

Derek - I do hope your tills are red hot with all those pre-Christmas purchases! Oh, and according to Mr. Dickens, Mistress Rugg has had a falling-out with her husband's particular friend, Mr. Nathaniel Tiggers, and has positively refused to countenance his attendance at her yuletide cake and negus assembly!

Terri - It's a weakness of mine, I'm afraid, always thinking aloud! It'll get me into all kinds of bother if I'm not careful!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I've just done what you said in your sidebar, and followed you on Twitter! I haven't quite got my neck round how it works yet, or what it's all about, but it looks fun!