Join now

Acorn Antiques in Andalucia

With time on my hands yesterday and a new sculpture in the pipeline, I decided to visit the last remaining old fashioned ironmongers in Rute (ROO-tay). It is an extraordinary shop – similar to Arkwrights in that it will have Fork Handles and Four Candles as well as air conditioning machines and wheel barrows.

I feel, as I enter this homage to the olden days, that I must morph into a mole, because there is not one single light on in the whole shop, and a smell of damp pervades the air. Through the murk you can make out everything from chairs to heaters, watering cans to coffee makers – all dredged in a thick layer of dust.

I cough, call “Hola”, and wait. And, as ever, from around a mountain of tiny boxes housing every size of screw, nail, washer and bolt, comes the owner – a man in his 90s, who has not a hair on his head. And from the mountain of boxes to the counter, all of two steps, I watch him, quivering and shaking, as he takes minutes to cross the gap to greet me.

He gathers himself and looks into my eyes with his own rheumy blue pair.

I tell him that I have come to buy wire – the thinnest possible, and that I am in a bit of a hurry.

He explains to me that he can sell me however many metres I want, while trundling back to a vast pair of wire cutters. I am ordered to follow him so, remaining behind him, we walk, more slowly than the growing speed of an oak tree, to his back rooms, him shaking with a regular, almost soothing monotony, as he goes. He fumbles around for what seems like an age for a light switch, potters on – another light switch – potters on until eventually we arrive in a dusty damp infested room with cement bags and chicken wire.

I’m really beginning to realise that I should never have come here, and yet I am practically having an out of body experience with the surrealness of it all. Here I am, in some dank and dark back room with an extremely elderly man who is no gentleman, but I feel entirely safe as I could walk faster than he could run.

And he shows me his prized wire – huge rolls of oxidized and galvanised totally unsuitable stuff which I won’t be buying – so I thank him and say No, sorry to have taken your time, I need a much finer wire …..

I thought I had my opportunity at that moment to escape, as my eyes fell on the dustiest sewing machine for sale next to a chemical loo and floor rug – but he says No! Come here, I have more … and we walk back, achingly slowly, back to the very place we started where he shows me his thinnest wire – 0.6mm – too thick and galvanised …. But nevertheless presented with a pride you rarely see in shops these days.

And he starts the same conversation we had the last time I went in – you’re not Spanish are you? But not English either … Oh? You are English? Well, you don’t look English, and you don’t speak Spanish like an English person ….

Bye Bye, Mr Acorn Antiques …. Til next time ….

World Forum

Our Global Partners