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Archive for January, 2013

The Imaginary Hotel

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Dear Rachel,

There are no consecutive months more dissimilar than December and January, and this is especially true for those of us involved in market trading, the chip shop scuffle at the ragged end of retail. For a start, there are far fewer traders in January; Christmas attracts any number of Kirstie Allsopp fans who don’t understand that unless you actually are Kirstie Allsopp, no one’s going to be interested in something you saw her make on her show and thought you’d replicate for the retail benefit of the general public. Essentially, these are craft show traders – the giveaway here is that they talk about ‘table fees’ rather than ’stall rent’ – and are used to operating in a rather more sanitised environment than Greenwich Market. Not that Greenwich Market is rough in any way (in fact, it borders on the genteel), but it is a lot rougher than a trestle table in a home counties scout hut, to which they are more suited.

Another difference is underlined by the the mentally ill, who are vital to the overall ambiance of any proper market. Indeed, at Camden they form the core of the trading community itself, and while they are less in evidence south of the Thames, my favourite at Greenwich is Dave or, to give him his full name, Mental Dave. Mental Dave is something of a mascot, and his wise words are welcomed by all. I think I’ve mentioned him before ages ago, when he gave me Theo Paphitis’ forty digit phone number and spent an afternoon issuing threats and warnings to golden retrievers, but I particularly enjoy his string of imaginary hotels. This prompts him to say things like ‘I can’t stop to chat, Boris Becker’s waiting outside on a double yellow, he’s working for me at the Dorchester’, which is disconcerting if you are unfamiliar with him. Those of us who speak in terms of stall rent value people like Mental Dave whereas those who talk in terms of table fees are not quite so at ease, as we shall see.

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My Name Is

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Dear Rachel,

One of the ways Danny copes with market trading during the quieter parts of the year – such as January – is by having text sex with grandmothers from Lewisham. Danny’s romantic texting technique is best described as forthright and committed to getting things over with as quickly as possible, and I am often drafted in to add a line here or there, check spelling, edit out the more horrifying parts, or generally jolly things along. As I usually trade near Danny and also get bored easily, I am sometimes handed the phone and asked to keep things ticking over while he is busy with a customer or walking his dog, and as it’s always nice to find a new low, I’m happy to oblige.

The latest such occasion was on Sunday and involved some tired old dinner lady called, probably, Alison or Janet or Mags or Peggy. While supplying me with background information, he told me that he likes to say ‘What’s my name?’ in a threatening and aggressive manner at critical moments during sex. Intrigued, I asked for a vocal demonstration. Upon receiving it, I larfed for eight minutes, to the point where I had to return, weeping with mirth, to my own stall to calm down. I assumed that this ‘What’s my name?’ business was something to do with her senility, but he told me that it ‘adds a bit of terror’ to proceedings. Considering the answer is presumably ‘Daniel’ – not a conventionally terrifying name – I’m not sure how long a menacing atmosphere could be sustained in this manner.

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