PC 72 I took the bus ….

I took the bus as it was raining but normally I would have walked the mile or so into Brighton. Celina had given me a cluster of thick glass bulbs, pulled together with wire; it was obvious that the bulbs were designed to have a little light inside. “Go to the electrical shop just near the Theatre Royal in Brighton; they’ll help you.”

I looked them up on line. Edwards & Hope seem to have been there for ever, one of those delightful anomalies against the march of the chain stores. Having checked their opening hours I walked up to the bus stop and got on the top deck – we are always children when it comes to a double decker bus, are we not? –up in the front? I remember as a teenager taking the bus into Haywards Heath and sitting in the back of the single decker so that, when it went over a particular little humped back bridge near the Balcombe viaduct, your bum left the seat!! Such fun!

Edwards &Hope is a sort of organised Aladdin’s cave, shelves of boxes containing bulbs of different shapes, different sizes, different wattage, bayonet or screw – you name it they had it. Coils of electrical wiring in different thicknesses and colours, and of course they also had those new filament bulbs that sort of ‘glow for effect’ but offer no light for, er, reading!!

Opposite the shop was one of those city areas where the dispossessed, feckless and those fond of an alcoholic beverage at 9 o clock in the morning congregate. To a casual passer-by they are harmless, a sad reflection on the social fabric with which we live. But if they congregate opposite your shop all day long in all weathers they could be construed as a real pain, despite feeling sympathy for their lot!

Glass Bulbs

This is what it’s all about!

I entered. “I need some advice please?” I asked of the chap behind the counter, unwinding the bubblewrap from around the glass bulbs. “Ah! I’ve seen one of these before …. let me go and ask Brenda.” So off he trotted and moments later Brenda appeared. I explained that Alex at Igigi had recommended them. A sort-of grimace accompanied a ‘yes I’ve fixed one of these before’. So then we discussed which shape of bulb, how the hell was it meant to get into the middle of the nest of glass bulbs and did I want colour etc. I asked whether she ran the business and her father has started it 50 years ago and yes, with ‘Auntie’ they ran it. I asked whether she was auntie’s niece or the other chap was the nephew but she got side-tracked as she dropped a lightbulb just when I was asking for a bigger wattage and Noah the Collie came sniffing around and Noah apparently often came sniffing around when there was glass on the floor and Andrew could you get the hoover, Noah keep away and this sort of went on for a while, as I asked how business was. Eventually after about half an hour we agreed the shape, colour and wattage of the bulb and Is that all? Well while I’m here I’ll have one of those fancy bulbs with the orange filament and one of this shape but not a bloody eco one as it’s from the hall loo – you switch the light on, it starts warming up, and by the time it’s bright enough you’ve done what you needed to do and you ……. switch it off! Engaging with people is such fun.

During this exchange various people came in, were served, and left, whether contented or not. One little chap came in with one of those office desk lamps, you know the one with a green oval shade often seen in 1950’s movies. It got rewired and the little chap left, very satisfied.

When I lived in Battersea, London, I frequented an independent bookshop on Northcote road run by a warm soft chap called Michael. Soft in manner not in spirit or manliness for he flew biplanes in his spare time. Once he asked me whether I had ever run a shop and I admitted no and he said pity as he had to go to Scandinavia for a wedding and he had no one to run his shop for him, Oh! I’ll do it I said, thinking it can’t be that difficult. Well we spent a day looking at the ordering system, the online bookstore, when the daily order had to be submitted and how to use the credit card machine…. and how to do the cash check at the end of the day. And a week later off he went, leaving me the keys and wishing me good luck. The day I ran the shop passed in quite a blur ….. of people coming in and buying a book, of those who simply wanted to browse, of those who wanted to read and not buy and of those who wanted advice. I do remember one man coming in looking for inspiration for a book for his son who was about to turn 12. I had no recent experience of the reading habits of a twelve year old, …….. but sold him a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. You can’t beat the old ones!

But it was all about being welcoming and helpful to the potential customer – and so it was in Edward & Hope. I left thinking what a lovely shop, and so pleased that it still existed as an independent family business, just like other shops in the Laines area of Brighton.

I imagined the next day, having to go back to exchange the screw fitting for a bayonet one, they would recognise me and say Oh! You’re back. Well, I got served by Auntie, and auntie had seen so many people in the intervening period that when I explained I had been in the day before she said that no she didn’t recognise me and what did I want ………

Just some scribbles …..

Richard 12th June 2016                                        richardyates24@gmail.com

PS I should acknowledge the writing style of James Frey here, for this PC reflects a little his continuous prose, with little punctuation. When I first read ‘A Million Little Pieces’ I didn’t like it and looked for the colons and semi-colons, not to mention the paragraphs! And now think it works well …. occasionally!!


2 thoughts on “PC 72 I took the bus ….

  1. Webb’s in Tenterden…only place I know where you can buy le Creuset pans and gravestone Cleaner… TR


  2. Passed a very enjoyable long w/e in Norfolk.  Revisited many haunts I enjoyed when growing up.  Heard some wonderful tales of shopkeepers past and present in Holt and also the difficulties of harvesting muscles.  I will try to retain the knowledge gained and recount some next time we meet.I enjoyed your less disciplined style of writing! Eddie 


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