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Archive for September, 2012

Slapstick On The Stairs

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Dear Rachel,

In keeping with the rest of the place, the stairs in the upper storage area of Leadenhall Market are ornate and other-worldly. They are the sort of stairs you have to really commit to, though – steep, twisty, barely wide enough to climb and the cases I have to heft up them are very heavy indeed. Physical strength and fitness are assets for a market trader, and while never having been anything other than slightly overweight I decided to try fasting for a larf in May, and have unexpectedly lost 40 lbs since. On paper, this makes me more suited to my occupation, however this is sometimes not so in practice, as we shall see.

I stopped to adjust my grip while wrestling a case of jewellery boxes up the Leadenhall stairs a few Fridays ago, at roughly the same place where a stouter man might stop for a breather. Whereas our imaginary stout friend would have completed an uneventful ascent thereafter, the case rested against my upper pelvic cavity and caused my jeans to fall entirely down to my knees. This was not an ideal turn of events, and although there was another trader nearby, I felt uncomfortable with the prospect of requesting assistance. I therefore battled on trusting that my new conjoined denim leg warmers would not cause me to topple back over myself and heap further indignity upon an already un-suave situation. Fortunately they did not, although anyone enjoying a lunchtime bevvy outside the Lamb would’ve seen something they may never have forgotten, had they happened to look up.

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Mistaking Identities

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

Dear Rachel

I am often told that being a market trader must be great for people watching. This is true. However, you quickly learn that there aren’t that many types of people to watch. Understanding this enables you to develop a kind of shorthand which then enables you to efficiently sort them into accurate demographic groups. I suspect that with close enough observation this would be possible no matter what means you employed; in my case, I use the medium of kitchenware.

For example, I can tell a great deal about someone by how much of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ by R. Kelly they will shout when confronted with an apron which has ‘I Believe I Can Fry’ written on it as a lazy but effective wordplay. Even if I was to trade blindfolded, I would know as soon as they got as far as ‘…I can touch the sky’ that I was being serenaded by someone with access to competitively priced tattooing facilities and large amounts of bad food. Observations such as these are all well and good, but ultimately it’s how you react to such people that counts. People projecting R. Kelly lyrics in response to a novelty apron aren’t necessarily dull, stupid, plain, predictable and disappointing, but there is always the risk that they might be. There are, after all, a lot of thick people about. The thing about thick people is that they are very good at being angry. I had to explain this once to Tony, with whom I once had an unlikely but successful kitchenware alliance, shortly after one of them punched him in the face.

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