The chemist has always held a certain fascination.The dispensary has air of alchemy; a repository of all sorts of potions and lotions, suggesting that here is a cure for all ailments. The pharmacist is a master of discretion – both trusted and respected. At the first hint of a sniffle, the dispensary can prove indispensable.
We have always had a ‘thing’ for stationery. A true staple of the high street, the stationer’s can often be the catalyst for many a creative endeavour. Who can resist those pots of pencils, boxes of rubbers, and neatly ordered stacks of sketchbooks? We all remember the excitement of fresh exercise books and geometry sets at the beginning of a new school term.
When we began selecting products for LABOUR AND WAIT over twenty years ago, we soon realised that our proclivity for brown tones could result in a completely brown shop. We regularly have to keep ourselves in check and ensure a variety of hues and colours find their way to the shop floor.
In December of 2014, our calendar image caption read the following:
"The colour of the earth. A rich, dark, peat brown, evoking leather, wood and even chocolate. We always find ourselves drawn to this colour; its depth has a graphic quality like black, but with a warmer, more natural feel. We even fantasise about opening a shop where all the products are brown!"
This September we are surrendering to our weakness: London Design Festival provides us with an opportunity for a tongue-in-cheek homage to the venerable and stoic tone to which we are indebted. Offering a mixture of vintage pieces, new finds and limited edition versions of familiar stalwarts, LABOUR AND WAIT BROWN will ‘pop-up’ for nine days in September on Calvert Avenue in Shoreditch; a short walk from our Redchurch Street shop.
LABOUR AND WAIT BROWN
16c Calvert Avenue,
London, E2 7JJ
12th - 20th September
Monday to Saturday 11.00am - 7.00pm
Sunday 11.00am - 5.00pm
The gaudy colours of a sweet shop are something of an assault on the senses! The visual ‘noise’ created by the packaging and colours of different brands is all but deafening. The neat rows of pick ‘n’ mix sweets in jars create some order amidst the chaos. The smell of a traditional sweet shop can sometimes evoke a Proustian moment!
Though not strictly speaking a shop, most people need a garage at some point. There are certain tasks where only an expert will do. The mechanics themselves are often only half visible, plunging head first into an engine or disappearing under a chassis. The distinctive aroma of fuel, oil and rubber divides opinion, but we love it!
At Labour and Wait we spend our time sourcing and developing products which will stand the test of time. We firmly believe that good quality well-designed items enhance our daily lives, and we hope that a sense of timelessness pervades all that we do.
‘British Standard’ follows a similar philosophy. Their straightforward wooden cupboards are designed and made in Suffolk using traditional methods, proving that it is still possible to find honest properly made cabinetry which will last a lifetime.
Here, British Standard’s design director, Merlin Wright, test drives his top picks from Labour and Wait in his London home.
1. BREAD KNIFE
"Made by Opinel with a wooden handle and serrated blade, which is particularly effective on crusty loaves."
2. COBWEB BRUSH
"The soft, bulbous brush and long handle enable people with high ceilings to sweep away cobwebs and dust without damaging paintwork."
3. PRESERVING JARS
"These airtight jars are perfect for storing dry goods such as flour and rice; much better than leaking plastic bags and you can see how much is left."
4. TEA INFUSER
"Loose tea tastes much better than tea bags but is fiddly and messy to use for a single cup - this infuser is simple to fill with a single scooping action and to empty after use with a flick of the wrist."
5. RE-ENGINEERED BROWN BETTY TEAPOT
"The perfect teapot, improved. This classic design is now stackable and has a removable metal strainer for easy extraction of old tea leaves."
6. BIB APRON
"In thick brown cotton with robust ties and brass eyelets, this classic apron can be used in the kitchen or workshop. This is the long version with a neck loop to protect the whole torso and has handy pockets for small tools or a recipe perhaps."
It's been quite some time since we last opened the door at 11.00am to Redchurch Street customers, so it brings us great yet trepidatious pleasure to announce that we will be reopening from TUESDAY 14TH JULY.
All of the new processes and cautiousness surrounding shops reopening after this lockdown will be heeded, and we'll be working hard to make visiting safe and as pleasurable as before.
We will return with more information closer to the date.
See you all soon!
A visit to a good fishmonger can be like a lesson in marine biology! Who knew what extraordinary creatures lived under the sea? They are fascinating (and sometimes terrifying), to contemplate.The fishmonger’s is a wet and chilly world, where rubber aprons and boots offer some protection from the icy produce.
How much more appealing to browse the shelves of a good grocer’s, than to be faced with the bland, generic interior of a supermarket. Tried and tested brands are stocked, together with a selection of local produce. The goods on offer will often have a seasonal bias, inspiring recipes and ensuring variety. A good grocer’s can make food shopping a pastime rather than a chore.
Since closing our Redchurch Street shop due to the ongoing virus crisis, your utilisation of our mail order service has kept us, the staff left able to work, busier than ever!
We are truly thankful of the continuous support by ordering with us online. However, being a small independent business with about three quarters of our staff currently 'out of office', we are somewhat slower than usual getting your orders out.
Do not fret! We're working hard, safely, separately; measuring, wrapping, taping, boxing, labelling. Your order will reach you, but it may take a handful of days rather than a couple. Please bear this in mind before calling or emailing us, as this will distract from our main task: getting your order in the post and into your home.
If you do have any questions regarding our offering and services, do feel free to pop us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible: email@example.com
Keep those hands washed and keep those orders a'coming!
Grow your own! A garden shop can be the gateway to horticultural heaven.The green-fingered amongst us will feel at home here, but even the enthusiastic beginner will find everything they need to bring nature that bit closer to home. From houseplants to allotments, we all need a bit more green in our lives, don’t we?
Although not to everyone’s taste, the skill of a highly trained butcher amounts to an art. In a classic striped apron and wielding a panoply of terrifying tools, a knowledgeable butcher will advise on the best cuts for specific recipes, then prepare them with finesse.
The smell of freshly baked bread is hard to beat, evoking contentment and warmth. Few can resist the lure of a good baker’s shop, with its tempting array of bread and cakes. The bakers have been hard at work for hours by the time we arrive to survey the fruits of their labour. How could we survive without our daily bread?
It may be quite apparent that those of us at LABOUR AND WAIT are ardent tea drinkers. Another notable tea drinker was George Orwell. He had very strong views on (very strong) tea, and here's his essay from the Evening Standard of 12th January, 1946, complimented with our own serving suggestions.
Thus, we fully endorse the following statement:
"If you look up 'tea' in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.
This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.
When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:
First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase 'a nice cup of tea' invariably means Indian tea.
Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.
Some people would answer that they don't like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.
These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one's ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent."
Ironmonger’s and hardware shops were really the starting point for LABOUR AND WAIT. We have always been fascinated by the variety of practical goods on offer: kitchen gadgets, tools and of course brushes! This type of shop is very close to our heart with its wealth of functional products for every domestic chore.