18 January 2010

Bring back the haberdasher

In her book, The Gentle Art of Domesticity, Jane Brocket bemoans the demise of the local haberdasher. I couldn't agree more. Back in "the olden days" we had a wonderful haberdashery within walking distance of home. This little treasure of a shop was run by the Misses Coventry and these two ladies stocked everything the home sewer could ever need. It was also a wonderful place for us children to be able to buy our mother a small gift for a birthday or Mother's Day.

These days, if I run out of thread or some other item of haberdashery, I have to drive the car to a barn-like place where I then fight my way through bed linen, towels, party supplies, rugs, cushions, candles, kitchen equipment etc etc before I get to the haberdashery section. When, if I am lucky, I get what I want, I then have to stand in a long queue to pay for it, all the time thinking 'Miss Coventry where are you?'

I say, if I am lucky, because this is what happened last week. I wanted a particular colour thread for the buttonholes on a shirt I am making. Off I go to the barn.

See the black hole in the fourth row from the left. All the colours in the rainbow except the colour I needed - number 80 and, of course, no staff member present who might have been able to help. If Miss Coventry had been there, she would have reached under the counter and replaced the missing number 80 and I would have gone home happy. Instead, I had to fight my way out again past all the kitchen equipment, candles, cushions, rugs, party supplies, towels, bed linen etc etc and drive on to another barn in the hope I would find the elusive number 80. I had to burn up petrol and emit goodness knows how many greenhouse gases, just for one reel of thread. I did eventually find my number 80, but it took me two days. I now feel the need to plant a few trees in order to lower my carbon footprint for those days. Bring back the local haberdasher I say.

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