An Engineer in Wonderland – The Space Shuttle Shop

Several years ago, I used to go to visit Staines in Middlesex (or not in Middlesex – depending on whether you are a Post Office or County Boundary pedant).

Once there, I used to get involved with repairing things and frequently had to buy odds and sods locally.

There were diy sheds in the area, but the local independent diy shop was so good that I seldom even bothered to try the big chain stores.

A breath of fresh air in these times of Hoodie Fear, was the proprietor’s young teenager who frequently worked there on Saturdays.

In a big diy store, I almost dread asking ‘do you have…’ because I find the answer is generally delivered with authority, but is only actually true about half of the time.

However, in the local store, neither proprietor nor teenager were ever flummoxed in my recollection.
If they didn’t have the right thing, they almost always had something else that would do the job.

And, although the premises were quite small from the front, there seemed to be an infinite number of rooms inside, all with stuff on shelves from floor to ceiling.

Which is why it became known as the Space Shuttle Shop, because we reckoned that if a NASA pilot landed one outside and went in for a spare ceramic tile, one of the denizens would replay ‘Oh yes, I think we have a complete set, but if we haven’t got the one you want, we have titanium sheeting and some rather fine cutters.”

I would name this wonderful place, but I am a little unsure where the law stands on employing such young people in shops and don’t want to cause any trouble.


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  1. Hopefully, there will always be a call for good shops.
    I am feeling guilty now for being someone who also shops in DIY sheds.
    Thanks for the compliment Ms G.

  2. That was a good read Alice. Like the blog!

  3. Howard Wreford-Glanvill

    I know just what he means. I was living in a small town called Glossop in the UK. There was a “harware shop” run by a man I guess in his 50s. It was packed from floor to ceiling. I always found what I wanted. If I was not quite sure of what I wanted all I needed to do was to tell the owner what I was intending to do. In a moment he produced just what I needed. What is more, he was most competent at doing anything from repairing a roof to fitting an electric immersion heater in the hot water tank to my requirements. And to cap it all his price was very reasonable!

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