Actually, it isn’t the queues at the tills that are the problem in our nearest town — we didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes to be served — but finding a place to park your car can be a nightmare at this time of year.
I can’t understand why some people drive round the car park at dangerous speeds as they get angrier and more frustrated at be unable to find a space.
The trick is to drive slowly and calmly while you watch out for people carrying bags and parcels that indicate that they might being about about to leave. And the time you spend driving round is great for composing your shopping list.
That’s where the ‘haberdashery’ comes in. One of the items on our list was ribbon that Mrs P wanted to use to hang some decorations in our living room, but where to buy it?
Time was that every High Street would have a haberdashery shop selling needles, buttons, cotton etc, but they’ve all been replaced with Starbucks and phone shops.
Even the big department stores would have a decent haberdashery department that would sell pretty much anything you needed to adjust or repair clothes. Now those same stores sell stuff so cheaply because it’s made in eastern sweat shops that no-one repairs anything any more, they simply throw it away.
But I digress from my main question which is: why haberdashery? By that I mean why do we call someone who sells needle and thread a haberdasher? It’s such an unusual word.
Apparently the word got a mention in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, but for the life of me I can’t recall it from my school days. Mind you, there’s quite a lot of Chaucer that I can’t remember. Like all of it.
Back in the 14th century, a haberdasher was a peddler who sold small wares, but there is no definitive explanation for the word itself. The most likely etymology is that it derived from the Anglo-Norman hapertas which means ‘small ware’.
And there is a Christmas connection. In Belgium and other parts of Europe, the patron saint of haberdashers is Saint Nicholas, presumably for the boost in sales he brings about every year.