bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

A Bit Of A Headache

Dear Rachel,

I was speaking to a gynaecologist recently, and was impressed by the way she could sketch a female reproductive system without looking at the paper she was drawing on. We were talking on a non-professional basis, but she estimated that she’d drawn over eight thousand female reproductive systems in her career and, as an encore, drew another one as a single unbroken line. I suggested she arrange for cannons to go off and glitter to come down from the ceiling when she reached the ten thousandth, because something like that should be given a sense of occasion.

Market trading is more difficult to represent with diagrams, so instead I turned the paper over and drew the principal causes of the War of the Roses, as I’d been reading about them that morning. Despite the Battle of Hexham having to appear on the back of a market rent receipt placed next to the main drawing, it worked quite well, and I was struck by how weird we’d be to play Pictionary against.

Danny is not, despite his continued insistence to the contrary, a gynaecologist, and neither are there any in the shops around the perimeter of the cobbled yard that forms Greenwich Market proper. Well, if there were, there probably isn’t any more, considering that of thirty two such premises, ten have been vacated in the last six months. I was able to give someone directions to Cutty Sark station on Saturday by telling them to walk past what used to be this, and turn left at what used to be that, and so forth, which was rather poignant. Unfortunately, it’s bleak news on all fronts at the moment: the Lower Market Hall at Camden Lock, once one of the most sought-after locations in market land, is now referred to as ‘the ballroom’ as it has literally no traders where there once were forty and a waiting list. Leadenhall Market – always tricky, but the only place in London with a chance of a half-decent weekday income – is closing this afternoon, representing the end of three thousand years of stuff being sold from stalls there. It was already ancient when the Romans arrived and built a forum on the site where, over twenty centuries later, an affable Greenwich trader called Jigsaw John discovered that the way to sell colourful wooden jigsaw puzzles is to put them in front of parents who feel guilty about how little time they spend with their children.

Being in the middle of the City, there were always various sorts of consultant wandering around Leadenhall. These are private sector consultants. They differ from public sector consultants in that although they’re also highly paid regardless of what they do, they aren’t pretending to be nice while they’re doing it, which brings a refreshing honesty to proceedings. Public sector consultants are what Guardian readers want their children to be: a pleasing combination of vast salary, social superiority and moral high ground. The only thing a Guardian reader wants their child to be more than a public sector consultant is a gay public sector consultant. In the unlikely event you know where Leadenhall Market is, I should probably point out that the building itself isn’t vanishing, only the rows of market stalls that traded in the middle. Anyway, I think Greenwich Market will be demolished this year, although I’m only drawing a conclusion from a series of hunches rather than divulging inside information. If it does, it’ll be back to crime again for most of us, I suppose, and crime – despite being a legal minefield – is at least exciting.

On Sunday, amid the gloom, the chirpy subject of how we’d all kill ourselves when we can no longer work was discussed. Of course, we’ve already been beaten to the classic understated British suicide by Captain Oates who, aware that he was hampering his friends’ chances of survival during the 1912 Polar expedition, said he was ‘…just going outside, and may be some time.’ I would also like a death both classic and understated and, in a manner befitting a British officer, could perhaps inform my companions that I was ‘…just going outside, and may have a bit of a headache afterwards’ before calmly retiring to the billiard room with a service revolver. The Goat Bag Man favours a barge full of hallucinogens and a one way wander up the Himalayas. Danny, I suspect, would have much the same idea but instead of the Himalayas it would be Deptford High Street, and instead of hallucinogens it would be half a ton of Frankie Vaughan*, carried behind him by heavily tattooed Lewisham-based single grandmothers.

As we discussed our arrangements, we were joined by a remarkable man I call the Zoom Lolly. I call him this because he always has a cool, clean look, like someone who habitually sleeps in a chest freezer. I have no idea who the Zoom Lolly is, or what he does for a living, but he is often around Greenwich Market. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think he and Danny used to import clothing from Milan in the murky past, and fly pitch it in and around the formally seminal but now appalling Lacy Lady nightclub in Romford. This would make sense, because the Zoom Lolly looks brilliant all the time, a mixture of Noel Cowerd in the ’30s, Marlene Dietrich in the ’40s, Tommy Nutter in the ’60s, Oswald Boetang in the ’90s, and Paul Smith now, and if there’s any justice in the world he’ll be getting paid for his sense of Plymouth Argyle** alone. In keeping with this, I’m happy to report that his method of suicide was break dancing himself to death in a special coffin with a dance floor and strobe lights.

While gynaecology holds all the cards when it comes to prospects and income, there are undeniably only so many sorts of uterus you can draw. There are many different types of market trader you can meet, though, and in an effort to lift spirits, I have assured several of them that rent receipts – such as the one I used to represent the Battle of Hexham – function like air miles: if we collect enough, we can trade them in for a real job. It would be typical of our luck if that didn’t actually turn out to be true.

* Rhyming slang: Frankie Vaughan – porn.

** Rhyming slang: Plymouth Argyle – style.

Public Service Announcement, Monday 11th February – Market traders always know somebody who knows somebody, and as a result of all manner of contacts being, well, contacted, the decision to close Leadenhall Market was reversed less than three hours after taking effect. Market traders are the new Freemasons.

Twitter: Increasingly irrelevant platform for non-comma using Boden shopping Save Our Libraries people to agree with whoever’s shouting loudest, to the applause of other people exactly like them. As much fun as it sounds.

Facebook: At least it isn’t like being yelled at by a Sixth Former, which makes it slightly more palatable than Twitter. The Facebook Group’s been going for years, but I’ve only recently started using Facebook in a personal capacity, so if we’re Facebook friends, I’m sorry for flooding everything with my ‘Likes’. If we’re not, I like among other things tea, Lacoste clothing, The Thick Of It, Slough Town Football Club and Peter the Great. Also, I changed my profile pictard to one of me sitting in front of a kangaroo skeleton, and five people liked that, too.

Photards: this weeks wander around the gallery has provided:

Top: A small statue of St Francis of Assissi. Well known as the patron saint of animals – which is why he is holding a dove the size of a chicken – he is also the patron saint of market traders and lonely death. He sits on the top of my stall and keeps an eye on things.

Middle: The excellent Steve Veedub’s equally excellent stall at Camden. I had a shop next to him a long time ago in the Stables Market, and on quiet afternoons he would attempt to make me vomit by inviting me to look at things he’d pulled from his nose. I countered this by only looking at things he’d pulled from his nose while we were standing in his shop, so that his stock would suffer if I did vomit, and asking him if he felt lucky.

Lower: Twenty pound note with intriguing inscription. From what I can gather, we are to expect some kind of New World Order to be ushered in on May 19th. It’ll ruin a decent Sunday’s trading, but I might be able to use my rent receipts v real jobs idea and end up as Prime Minister. That’ll give Twitter something to bitch about, alright.


  1. rachel

    Feb 8th, 2013
    7:40 pm

    can’t quite tell if that’s a 15 or a 13 on the bill, though, so if *it* doesn’t happen this year we’ve still got 2015 to look forward to. always good policy to be a little vague when it comes to armageddon or alien invasion or whatever. maintain a little wiggle room, as they say.

  2. by Paul Smith

    Feb 8th, 2013
    10:08 pm

    It’s a 13, you can tell by looking at the 5. Start burning documents and hoarding food.

  3. Simon

    Feb 11th, 2013
    9:47 pm

    is that *the* Rachel, or *a* Rachel?

  4. by Paul Smith

    Feb 11th, 2013
    10:17 pm

    It’s the actual Rachel. Not just some passing Rachel.

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