I went to B and Q to see what I could find out about bathrooms (we’re getting a bathroom put into the flat at the top of the house) and buy a tape measure, a new bow saw, some secateurs, and then I picked up a big container of brick and patio cleaner to see what it had in it, wondering if I could use it to clean fossils and rocks, and the top wasn’t screwed on properly and it leaked all over my hand. So I read the label in a hurry, and saw that it contained hydrochloric acid; I’ve seen that steam and hiss in reaction with lime. And there was a picture of an ungloved hand with a big red cross through it. So I looked around for help and then walked over briskly to the desk by the checkout where they deal with returns etc., and the customers stand like refugees who’ve almost given up hope of being allowed to cross the border, and said to the young man as I placed the container on the counter in front of him, with a hint of a flourish,
‘This leaked all over me! It’s got acid in it! |I need to wash my hands!’
Or that kind of thing, in what I hoped was a clear, calm, firm kind of voice, and he looked up and said I’m busy with something else just at the moment, and in a half hearted kind of way he indicated another employee standing in the aisle about fifteen yards away, and tried to attract his attention using just his eyebrows. I could see that was going to take a while to work so I walked firmly but fairly over to the second guy and said to him,
‘Acid! Leaked! Need to wash my hands!’ etc.
And he didn’t say anything but got busy with his eyebrows to indicate a door set into the side wall of the building. He stood where he was while I hurried over to the door and couldn’t open it, then he came over with a key, nice and slow, got to stay cool, but he didn’t need the key, it was just that the door was a bit tricky to pull open. Then the B and Q superstore became like a film set for a magical children’s story and I ‘found myself in’ a scruffy narrow corridor lined with buckets, step ladders, half crushed cardboard boxes, old rags and five litre bottles of detergent, but nothing you could use to make an interesting magical realism list, with various rooms leading off it and some stairs going up to more space, and the guy, who’s still standing outside pointed to the right, and through another door was a densely untidy store room/tool room but I couldn’t see a sink. Just then a third employee comes trotting down the stairs, and I said to him,
‘Need to find a sink, leak, not that kind of leak, need to wash my hands, hydrochloric acid, the guy out there said there was a sink in here but I can’t see it.’
And he shewed me that there was indeed a sink, he even used a few words, a little sink in the corner with one big tap, partially obscured with stuff that I didn’t really take in. Obviously a little used sink they kept well hidden in case of emergency. I wished I’d had my camera. So then I washed my hands.
Then I thought, my hands didn’t hurt at all. It must be fucking rubbish, that B and Q brick and patio cleaner. I’m never going to buy that.