Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


I had to go to the ironmongers today to get some hooks and some rawlplugs. As usual the shop was crowded and, as usual I was a bit worried about what I had to buy. After all, in the UK, you pop off to one of those giant superstores and search amongst the racks for what you want.

Actually you could always tell what you wanted, especially if it were Sunday and the toilet cistern was leaking, because the shelf that held the vital part would have just one section that was empty - the bit where that essential part you needed should have been. But I digress.

So in the UK knowing the name of some arcane piece of plumbing kit isn't a problem. In Spain though an ironmongers is still an ironmongers. They have a whole wealth of ironmongery treasures often for tiny amounts of money. You have to ask for nearly everything you want by name or, more often for we Brits, with a bit of mime and maybe a pen and paper. In our local shop called Demetrio's (Heaven knows why as the owner is called Olegario not Demetrio) there are lots of exciting and interesting things hung up on racks. He does make a point though of ensuring that nothing I can't ask for in Spanish is out on the racks. Not for me the soft option.

I called them rawlplugs, when I started this note, and I would ask for them in that way if I needed to ask someone for them (as distinct from taking them from the shelves) in the UK but I presume that's just a particular brand for those wall plugs that screws and hooks go in to. I don't even know what to look up in the Spanish dictionary to find a translation and rawlplugs are pretty straightforward to mime. What about when you want the netting they use to make flyscreens or a pole for a wardrobe with slot in fastenings!

I was just on my way out to buy the plugs, hooks etc. when Clive turned up where I work - "See you later Clive, I'm off to get some hooks" says I "Ah, interesting word hook in Spanish - alcayata for the L shaped ones, hembrilla abierta for hook type hooks and hembrilla cerrada for the round ones that aren't really hooks" says Clive (he's like that). I'd been going to use the word I know for a hook - gancho.

Olegario understood the words and when I said I wanted the plastic thing that the hooks gripped on to he gave me some. Actually he gave me two because I'd bought two hooks - not a packet, just the two hooks and the two plugs I needed.

Spanish ironmongers are a joy. Next time you're here pop in to one and get something interesting to take back.

And a rawlplug in Spanish, by the way, should you ever need to buy a couple, is taquete

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