bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

All The Lonely People

Dear Rachel

Of all the different groups of people that co-exist within the haphazard ecosystem of a London market, none are more different than weekday and weekend traders. They are barely the same species, and nowhere is this more evident than in Greenwich Market, and attitudes towards dress sense and cats.

For example, I’m not sure that grown women should really be wearing polka dots. However, as I spoke to a weekday trader doing just that at my stall recently, I decided not to bring the matter up. You shouldn’t judge a book by the cover of course, but then again you are in charge of your cover, and if you want it to make you look like an eight year old at a wedding reception, you shouldn’t be surprised if someone gives you a paper plate with sausage rolls on it. As luck would have it, I actually had a paper plate with sausage rolls on it handy, and she took one while discussing a detective novel she was reading in which all the characters were cats. They had names like Mr Neatwhisker and Milady Pinkpaws, and reading it made her sound lonely. I asked if she would have liked it as much had they all been humans, and she replied no, definitely not. Finishing her sausage roll, she asked what I was reading on my Kindle. It was Geoffrey Hosking’s History of the Soviet Union. I felt this would be difficult to explain via cats, so I just said ‘Football’ and left it at that.

There is a particular venom carried by some species of rattlesnake that can render prey numb and immobile in seconds. My new friend and I each had one side of this equation, but with boredom instead of poison: I was numb, and she was immobile. I wondered if I was being chatted up, and said ‘Your glasses are nice’ to see what happened. Nothing did, except for her next statement, which was that a woman must’ve thought of all my stuff, as it was unusual for men to be creative. I replied that yes, we’re all amazed, I’m known as Miracle Boy round my way and have my gender checked under medical supervision twice a year. While doing so, I thought about what the rest of her wardrobe must be like, and imagined a lot of purple in it. I went on to explain that now she came to mention it she did strike me as the creative sort, and when I first saw her stall that morning I’d expected her to climb on it and freestyle us an opera. None of this registered with her, which was fine by me. I pointed out that there were at least a couple of creative men – any book stall in the market, for example, would have evidence of this. I also pointed out inventor of the computer Alan Turing, as he was gay and she’d probably be less intimidated by him. At length, she told me to pop over to her stall later on, which I agreed to do, because lying is easy under certain circumstances. In the end I actually did, because she was quite nice really, and we talked about cats again for a bit. I can’t be certain, but I should think she has about eighty.

The weekday market at Greenwich is good. In fact, the weekday versions of the markets in which I have commercial interests are all better than you might expect: Spitalfields is fun on a Friday if Marvin and Viran are out with ladies’ wear and baby clothes with swear words on them respectively. Camden is more of a city state than a market and is good all week for jewellery and the Goat Bag Man’s stuff being sold by Scouse Andy on my old pitch. Leadenhall is alright if you can find it and like pashminas and teacups with candles in them. All have to a greater or lesser extent mixed their traders together recently, as a result of general messing about with things bought about by the Olympics. There is a precedent for overlap – some weekend traders do Fridays, including myself from time to time as an ‘insurance day’ in case the weekend is flat. Anyway, Greenwich’s Olympic experiment is more or less over and the market is back to its sleepy midweek self. Similar upheaval in another, less charming market, prompted the following text from a close acquaintance which read: ‘At the market. So far, so shite. Full of moany weekday traders stinking of beer, piss and Rich Tea biscuits’, which I felt was perhaps a little harsh but, on the other hand, absolutely accurate.



Kindle: Managed to fall 86,543 places to 149,143 in the sellers’ ranking this week. In the listings, we’re just behind ‘Faith And The American Presidency’ and just in front of ‘The Zen-Golf Murder! (A Miles Driver Golfing Mystery)’. There’s not much to chose from those two as they both seem dull, but my tip this week is the golfing book because I used to stay up all night playing PGA Tour Golf on the Sega and smoking Superkings when I was on the dole. I used to watch the Big Breakfast and then go to bed. Glamourous times.

Pictards: This week’s portraits are:

Top: A tin of mackerel fillets. I eat a lot of this sort of thing while trading.

Middle: Fusion cuisine: a tin of mackerel fillets, mixed into Ethiopian rice, chickpeas and potatoes. Splendid.

Lower: Danny’s dog making himself at home on the carpet I always stand on while trading. I might get a fireplace put in so he has something to curl up in front of during the winter months.


  1. Clare

    Aug 19th, 2012
    10:42 pm

    The sight of your lunch turned my stomach. WRONG.

  2. by Paul Smith

    Aug 20th, 2012
    9:37 am

    No way, that is a brilliant lunch. You need to ask yourself why you say these things.

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