The shop in this picture is named for Abram’s Drapers in Miles, one of many Lebanese-founded drapers, tailors and haberdashers that exist – or used to exist – across the Darling Downs. I miss those shops – offcuts and ribbons and bolts of dusty old fabric, stacks of hats, hooks full of zippers, boots, lace motifs, stork-handled scissors and tatting bobbins. One in Dalby still had the hand-cranked cage on wires which once delivered change to the counting-room at the back of the store. I remember that even in the late ’90s in Brisbane there was still a haberdashery counter in Myer department stores in Brisbane.
Ace Drapers in Roma, however, was alarming – odd helpful assistants looming out of the ancient gloom between the shelves, and vanishing up the box-crowded sweeping stairs to prowl through the upper floors and return with what you desired.
His Dark Materials is not about fabric, but I have not yet forgiven Philip Pullman for killing off my favourite character.