Colourful language

I saw this lovely shop in Delft. It’s called De Goedkoope, Verf Winkel, W. Verbeek, which translates – rather unromantically – as The Cheap Paint Shop, owner W. Verbeek. Founded in 1881, the shop remains a family business that makes and sells paints, pigments and other art and decorating supplies. Inside, you encounter the perfumed paraphernalia of visual cooking – vats, powders, brushes, stirrers, tins, syrups, essences – along with some lovely lettering and type design. There are more photographs of the shop over on my flickr site.

I was rather taken with a poem they have in the window – a characterful piece of DIY brand writing that says so much about the history of the shop and the attitude of its owners. I imagine one of the modern Verbeeks sitting down to write this, their hands still stained from a hard day’s pursuit of the perfect colour. I love the final line – can’t imagine many corporations having the confidence to make such a claim. Here are the words:

The family Verbeek is here, foremost, to serve you,

So please don’t let waiting your turn unnerve you!

What you choose will be up on your walls forever —

So rush, haste and impatience are useful…. Never.

They put their whole hearts in their work, it’s clear —

And Delft is more lovely because they are here.

Some more colourful language is to be found when you visit the shop’s website. Here’s my simplified (and probably simplistic) edit of a basic translation – I’m sure the original is far more rich, nuanced and bawdy:

If the majestic plane trees of Delft could talk, they would tell wonderful stories… About the farmers on Thursday, clapping and herding their cows and sheep to the market. About the inescapable stink that rises from the thick layer of straw and shit on the roads. About the lascivious, short-skirted girls from the treacle factory, who call out to the horny men passing by… And about the heady smell of linseed oil, turpentine and beeswax that wafts out into the square when the door of ‘the cheap paint shop’ is open.


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