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Archive for 2009

Joyful All Ye Nations Rise

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

Dear Rachel.

I often use cutlery to scratch my head in mid conversation, so tend not to get invited out to dinner very often. However, I see no need to waste time in restaurants over Christmas when you can get a turkey kebab with cranberry sauce at Panic Kebabs on Junction Road, served by a genial Turkish man in a paper hat and Santa beard. Admirably, he dismisses the increased fire risk by jovially explaining that ‘It’s Christmas’, an explanation I suspect he would cling to even if his face was in flames. (Also – and this just occurred to me as I was writing – he is in the habit of wearing at least five gold rings, so there is a nice festive tie in there, too.)

The cranberry sauce part of the kebab is, oddly, far more important than it should be. I only eat one teaspoon of cranberry sauce per year, but, if it was denied me, I would be outraged to the point of civil disobedience. I suppose it’s the tradition of the thing, like clip shows of Morecombe and Wise Christmas Specials. There was, incidentally, a huge turn out for a local Boxing Day custom near my auntie’s which involved running into the River Medway, under conditions which the Met Office described as ‘fucking freezing’. I tagged along as I thought there was going to be a hanging, and was therefore disappointed.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal I dunno all sorts, probably]

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Friday Afternoon Down Bishopsgate Way

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Last Friday, I had my boxer shorts on backwards all day, which made the world seem like a more roomy, but also more cramped, place than normal. I might do it more often, as it was sort of wrong but right, like Elvis in Vegas. I only noticed in the gents’ at the Lamb public house at Leadenhall Market, when, at a happily deserted urinal, I spent rather more time than I suspect would be considered socially acceptable trying to work out where my cock had gone.

I have very little to do with our stall at Leadenhall, apart from dropping off stock to Tony, which usually occurs on a Thursday afternoon, and I found it interesting to trade there for the day. All the markets we operate in have their own little foibles: Greenwich floods suddenly and dramatically whenever there is heavy rain. Camden has its hoardes of shrieking fucktards, and Leadenhall, I noticed, has endless likeable but slightly, I dunno, strained full-on career ladies. One of them got her face out and gave me a proper look with it when I extended a hearty welcome to our lovely kitchenware stall, so I said ‘Yeah, sorry, you look really familiar – have you ever done any porn?’ as she stalked back off to, I presume, a life of hair straighteners, opaque tights, waxing, internet dating, Snow Patrol, solitary wine consumption and weeping herself nightly towards childless spinsterhood. People who don’t want aprons with ‘Beam Me Up, Biscotti’ written on them are all the same.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal pigeon-related near arrests]

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A Binliner Full Of Thighs

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Dear Rachel

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a meat raffle. If you are unfamiliar, a meat raffle is a lovely old Sunday afternoon pub tradition where a local butcher supplies a carrier bag full of, I dunno, stomachs and offers it as the main prize in a draw, splitting the proceeds with the landlord. At the Printer’s Devil public house, Stoke Road, Slough, the landlord was, for quite a while, me. I tidied the meat raffle up a bit by insisting that the contents of the bag should at least be recognisably bovine, or porcine, or sheepine, as otherwise I might as well have slung a cloak and bowler hat in among the whole ghastly jamboree and auctioned it off as Jack the Ripper’s overnight bag.

Anyway. As a result of me adding a touch of sophistication to proceedings, the Printer’s Devil ‘Win A Bag Of Legs’ raffle, in which a lucky drinker could go home with a selection of miscellaneous shins, was born. I would further entice participants with the promise that it was ‘All hooves – no paws’ to get around the fact that at first glance it appeared to be a binliner full of thighs. To compete with the Grapes, which had a big screen for the footie, we had a disco and music quiz as well. Sunday afternoon was party afternoon down Stoke Road way, I can tell you. One of my many golden memories of the Win A Bag Of Legs raffle is of a delirious and clearly hammered Mr Singh – rotund local carpet vendor of distinction, whose unlikely catchphrase was ‘A pint of John Smith’s, you fucking bastard’ – dancing around a Tesco bag full of animal legs to ‘Walking on Sunshine’ by Katrina and the Waves.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal further horrors, I should think]

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Fame Snub For Slack Matt

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Yeah, Emma Watson, who plays Sabrina the Teenage Witch in the Harry Potter books, went past our old pitch at Camden once. I didn’t recognise her without Bilbo, but fellow t shirt vendor Slack Matt tried optimistically to crack onto her as she walked around the East Yard. Not possessing a cinematic career of his own, I assume he did so as a result of briefly slipping into an impromtu nightmare rendering of Notting Hill. In this version, however, Hugh Grant’s affable bookshop owner character had been transposed into a hugely likeable if somewhat stunted market trader played by someone who – and I don’t know why this is true, but it is – looks like a taxi driver. I have in fact long campaigned for Slack Matt to have a rear view mirror fitted behind his stall, so that he can face away from his customers and talk to them while looking in it.

In the aftermath of being turned down by the Watson, Matt’s splendid indignation was not so much directed at the rebuff as the fact that she had come out wearing tracksuit bottoms and a baggy jumper, instead of, presumably, a cloak and pointy hat with stars on it. I agreed that yeah, you’d think that one of the most eligible women in England would make more of an effort when coming into the East Yard, considering the mouthwatering manbuffet on show, but that in any case the only reason you’d date an eighteen year old would be to get your iPod set up properly.

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Stormy Weather in SE10

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

It is common practice in the building trade to house external storage tanks in large wooden boxes consisting of two inch thick plywood paneling. One of the very many interesting things about plywood paneling is that, if it is subjected to torrential rain for a substantial length of time, it becomes inundated, heavy, and prone to detaching itself from whatever it is attached to, especially if what it is attached to is similarly unstable sections of plywood paneling.

Once this happenstance has been occurred, all that is needed is an external force – such as winds in excess of 100 mph – like those occurring in the SE10 postal district of London at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon – to apply itself to the waterlogged storage tank housing for one of the eighteen foot long side panels to break free and hurtle at great speed through the air until its progress is impeded by something, such as the roof of a covered market.

Here, momentum will either be dissipated back into the panel by the roof, thus causing it to bounce off or shatter, or it will smash straight though and plummet seventy feet earthwards towards shoppers and traders, destroying a stall selling knitted head wear, ricocheting onto the roof of a stall belonging to London’s primary apron vendor, buckling the steel bars above his lovely head, before coming to rest, thankfully as a spent force, on a lady and small child. This, as you may already have guessed, is what actually happened. It was all so quick and loud that the first I knew if it was having a woman who had been carried into my stall by the passing projectile apologise for the intrusion and explain that ‘Something like this always happens when I try to buy a hat’.

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Through Streets Broad And Narrow

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

I spend more time than most people wheeling a barrow full of stock around London, either on the way to Greenwich market, or dropping stuff off at Leadenhall or Camden. Even if I’m not going to a market, I wheel it around anyway, to show how working class I am.

My barrowcraft is excellent. I can spin it by standing on one tyre and pushing off with the other leg, in order to get it facing the right exit on crowded Northern Line carriages, and glide on and off escalators like a horrible man swan. Less finesse is required when crossing the concourse at Liverpool Street station, especially at night, when it’s just office blokes who have spent the evening in All Bar One or whatever doing tequila shots, yelling along to My Sex Is On Fire and trying to shag yoghurt guzzling desk weepers from admin called Jo who live in Godless new build estates in, I dunno, Chiswick Park or something, and who don’t own a single album that isn’t a compilation. At times like this, I eminate poverty, impatience, and a complete lack of public liability insurance, so yeah, wander about wherever you like, but forget your vintage car track day if 170 lbs of market trader pushing 140 lbs of stock ploughs into you by the Cornish Pasty Company.

[Hitting read more now will reveal further adventures at the helm of the hardest working barrow in London]

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Swaying Gourmet On Junction Road

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Reading while drunk is one of the most annoying things you can do, as your eyes just roll around all over the page like marbles on a tray. I found myself doing this on the Northern Line recently, immediatley prior to tackling Junction Road in the uncertain but nonetheless determined manner of a gentleman who has consumed eight pints of snakebite in the George on Borough High Street. I may well have been nodding in agreement with the book as I read in order to maintain the air of quiet dignity for which I am noted among my peers.

Pinballing my way out of Archway tube, I was horried to find that Panic Kebabs – north London’s home of deluxe artery-deleting post pub snackery for the discerning but incoherent, (and for the record, actually called Planet Kebabs) – was closed for the first time since the late middle ages. I once stated before the House of Commons that I would not set foot in Archway Kebabs, on the other side of Junction Road, even if it was the only part of the world not on fire. This left me, masquerading in my late night guise as the Swaying Gourmet, with Chicken Spot, next to the Lion on the corner of Holloway Road.

[Hitting Read More will reveal north London food adventures]

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Slow Saturday At Greenwich Market

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Dear Rachel,

General disdain at the quality of available Hillmans* is the perogative of the market trader, or, as I am rebranding myself over the next few months, the gentleman retailer. Therefore,’If I sell you this, will you go away?’ is now my standard offer to disinterested and/or uninspiring browsers.

It’s horses for courses, though. Looking like Yoda doesn’t necessarily make you wise, as I pointed out to some old bint this weekend, shrunken from a lifetime of pouring out scorn, as she picked over our stall in the manner of someone retrieving a bus pass from a pile of dog turds.

(*Hillman Hunters – Punters)

[Hitting Read More will reveal secrets of the free market economy and Beastie Boys related kitchenware sales]

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Fame At Last

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Yeah I was setting up my stall at Greenwich last Saturday when a woman, who had been watching me wrestle with hangers and clips and stock for some time, came over. ‘I’ve been following your work for years’ she said, ‘and I’ve always hated it’.

I’ve never been complimented and slagged off at the same time before, and it is a bewildering experience, let me tell you. It’s like if you laugh and sneeze simultaneously – a third thing needs to happen to equalise the situation, like wetting yourself. In the event, all I could muster by way of a reply was ‘Well, thanks for hanging in there’ which I said to her very-pleased-with-itself ‘I Am Not A Plastic Bag’ holdall as she walked off.

The slightly odd thing is, though, that unless you actually know me personally or follow these posts pretty closely it is quite difficult to work out what it is I actually do. I didn’t recognise her, so she must be among the hundred or of kind people who have nowhere else to go and read this on a regular basis. Assuming that this is the case, I’d like to extend a hearty Hello Piss There Off to you, wherever you are, by way of a welcome and a go fuck yourself.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal further bewilderances, among other things]

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The Great Chip Paper Ritual

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

Dear Rachel

Yeah, no one knows how Stonehenge and the other stone circles were built, or what they are made of, or what shape they are. They are a total mystery, like where the Loch Ness Monster has gone. There’s all the smaller mysteries as well, with which I’m sure we are all familiar ie where are my doorkeys, why do I bother clinging to life, and I dunno why is there a lion in my kitchen, and so forth.

However, for me, the greatest mystery of all took place in the area of spatial uncertainty where the worlds of mass transit, chips, Leeds and football overlap. It doesn’t concern football itself, but an incident that used to happen on the way to the football, and immediately after a great deal of chips had been consumed.

[Hitting Read More now will reveal a load of stuff about, as you might expect, chips and such]

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