The nuts and bolts of ironmongery

John Ward
John Ward
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THOUGHTS OF A FRUITCAKE: By John Ward

Currently trying and I do mean trying to obtain assorted bits and bobs as in spare parts for certain mechanical items that I require is frustrating at the best of times and my current ongoing battle with assorted bods on the other end of the phone that seem to be heading in the direction of me going for an hair transplant, centre portion over the skull area, so that I will have something to rip out in frustration in the very near future.

I thought in this wonderful millennium such mind games would be eradicated or at least got rid of by now but the process still goes on it seems. One instance from years gone by was the case of popping into our then Rover car dealer to obtain – note the word obtain at this point – a water pump for my neighbour’s Austin Maestro (there – somebody did buy them) and on my arrival I saw one on the shelf behind the parts counter as the assistant wandered out and asked for my requirements and I explained that the item in question was mere inches away, nicely labelled as to what it would fit.

Sadly I was told I could not buy that one as it did not exist. Nowadays this would form part of an advert for well known opticians but the reason being was – wait for it, wait for it – ‘it was not on stock’ so therefore he could not sell to me it as it was not there and so he could not generate an invoice for it as stock level said zero as he turned the screen to me and true enough, no stock listed it but ordering one for next Wednesday, four days later, was not an option as we needed it pronto to fit today but despite assorted suggestions as to how I could have the one mere inches away and replace it with the proposed one that would be ordered cut no ice so I made my expletives known and left and went to a motor factor where once they finished laughing their heads off when I explained my encounter with Rambling Rover Man I did buy said pump and we all lived happily after apart from Rover who went bust years later as history shows and the Maestro carried on going for a few more years.

Lightning struck twice however. I popped into an hardware/ironmongers shop not unlike the Two Ronnies’ famous ‘four candles’ sketch in appearance and out came a cigarette chewing/coughing assistant in brown smock and I explained I wanted six bolts in stainless steel of a certain size to which he sucked on the now beyond resuscitation cigarette and said they were in ‘short supply’ and this was backed up by him explaining it was the – quote ‘ere – ‘The effects of the three day week, Guv’ which bearing in mind, and I explain it for free so you don’t have to look on-line to find out, was in the year 1973 in the last century but I was inquiring in 1998 so proves if nothing else comedy comes in various forms but I did get my bolts elsewhere before you wonder.

I like to think that stainless steel bolt production has picked up since my last adventure in nut and bolt land and not blamed on the popular ‘leaves on the line’.

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