If you go into a hardware store (shop) over here and ask for rawlplugs, or multiway mains sockets, or polyfilla, or a spanner they won’t know what you are on about. Fortunately, the hardware store situation here is exactly the same as it is in the UK; you have a choice between local, family-owned places and one of the various megastores.
Just like the UK, the megastores are badly designed, full of uninterested, mouth-breathing, dullards, and concentrate on quantity rather than quality of crap. Just like the UK, the local places are full of helpful, friendly, geniuses and stock the obscurest of widgets. Just like the UK, the local places are permanently on the point of bankruptcy.
Anyway, thanks to the incredibly nice staff of Stanley’s Hardware and thanks to my late grandfather-in-law, I now have a bunch of tools and enough knowledge of the way things work over here to enable me to give derisory comments and tut at previous cowboys work whilst making a complete bollocks of screwing some shelves to the wall.
The electricity situation here is bizarre. Here is a list of things that will amaze Brits, and that will appear normal to the average American:
- They have mains sockets by kitchen sinks and in bathrooms over here.
- The traditional plugs fit in either way round.
- Not only are the light bulbs screw-in, some fuses are too. They’re also frequently made of glass.
- Frequently the mains sockets aren’t earthed.
- You can buy 3 pin to 2 pin adapters where the earth pin has a little metal tag that can be screwed into a nearby earth.
- Their old wiring is called “knob and tube” because they used little porcelain knobs and tubes to feed the bare wire around the house. Our house still has some “knob and tube” in the roof. Being a Viz reader of course I refer to it as knob and bollocks wiring.
- Sometime a house can have both 110 and 220 volt mains.
- The plugs aren’t fused.
Nonetheless, after walking around the house with my tool box, doing some drilling, checking the shelves with a spirit level and ignoring the plaster-dust generated, I’m feeling like a real man.
P.S. I’ll be back in the UK on the 21st! I’m so excited!