bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Fruity Veg Trader

Dear Rachel

As is widely acknowledged, the worlds of filth and commerce seldom meld together more effortlessly than in the arena of fruit and veg retail.  I’ve done a fair bit of this in my time and, let me assure you, it’s like being possessed by some kind of demon.  And I do think ‘possession’ is the correct word, as you don’t make a conscious decision to spray foulness upon the grocery buying public.  It just pours out of you.  Buying fruit and veg from me is like buying fruit and veg from the girl out of the Exorcist.  Also, stepping behind a busy fruit and veg stall is, as far as I am concerned, the Wembley Stadium or Madison Square Gardens of casual retail.  You have to up your game accordingly, even if it means not only combining the worlds of filth and commerce as mentioned, but also the worlds of customer service and rape.

Quite recently, for example, I was ninety seconds into minding someone else’s fruit and veg stall when I informed a lady that the look on her face told me that she was dying to look at my plums.  She confirmed that I did indeed keep them smooth as silk, which is nicer for everyone, and that she shouldn’t squeeze them too hard in case they get bruised.

In what I sensed was descending into something of a filth off, she asked if I had a nice cucumber to go with them.
‘Feast your eyes on this beauty’, I said, drawing one from across the stall.  ‘It may not be an onion – but it can still make your eyes water‘.  ‘Look at the curve on it‘ I went on, pointing out that she had a faraway look in her eyes all of a sudden.  ‘You can do all sorts with one of these’, I explained ‘But I like to simply unwrap it, give it a little wash, and toss it into a salad.  I don’t want any back chat about sell by dates, either, it’s still lovely and fresh – I unloaded it myself off the back of the wholesaler’s lorry this morning, with everybody watching”.

My next customer wanted apples, which is also an open goal with this sort of arrangement.  ‘Apples?’  I said, leaping upon the unmissable, ‘I know you ladies can’t get enough English Cox – luckily I have one to hand right here‘  I was hoping she would ask for gooseberries to go in a pie or whatever with them, so that I could say ‘Gooseberry?  I think of him like that too, my love, but remember he’s your husband‘ or something similar.  I hadn’t even entered the realm of ‘Lovely pear’, as in ‘That’s a lovely pear you have madam – I could look at it all day.   In fact, I’d chuck my telly away.   Tell your husband from me he’s a lucky man‘ and so forth.    I have discovered that the role of the unseen husband is vital when hurling thinly veiled innuendos about the place, as it gives the comforting impression that the whole conversation is taking place in On The Buses, or between Sid James and Joan Sims.

I don’t know how innuendo works if you are a lady, as it would just be ‘They are lovely strawberries, yes.  I’ve been rubbing my tits over them all morning‘ which somehow isn’t the same.   In any case, there are many reasons to praise God for the gift of masculinity, not least because in contemporary society very little is expected of you other than to act like a total idiot for, basically, your whole life.   It’s tremendously liberating, and means you can just muck about a lot.  I would go as far as to say that my entire livelihood is based upon Mucking About, and I think that for men, Mucking About satisfies the same primal urge as, perhaps, shopping does for women.   Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, the highest expression of maleness is not willful assertion, or violent confrontation, but selling fruit and veg from a market stall, while horrifying your customers into silence.

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Photards: Top - the Pearly King of Wapping and the Pearly Queen of Greenwich, on a state visit.  They’re just like normal people, really.

Middle – Sign I had made for the Greenwich stall.  It lights up the sky above SE10 like a supernova.

Lower – Local dog called Heston.  He had to be carried because he kept chewing the bottom of the stall.


  1. Rachel

    Oct 10th, 2010
    10:00 pm

    a dog that cute could teach us a lot about getting away with stuff.

  2. Paul

    Oct 10th, 2010
    10:34 pm

    Yes, he was very friendly, was Heston. We get some excellent dogs at Greenwich.

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