bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Glories Stream From Heaven Afar

Dear Rachel

I love Christmas carols, and so was enchanted at hearing them played slightly too slowly by twenty eight year olds with violins at Greenwich market yesterday.  My stall was facing away from the awful noise, and at first I assumed that glory to the new born King and the subsequent reconciling of God and sinners was being heralded by the erratic pumping of bellows to which kazoos had been attached.   There was, of course, the usual adaptation of lyrics to suit the occasion – the occasion being the bullying of Keith – hence good king Wenceslas, looking out across frost deep and crisp and even, was not moved when ‘a poor man came in sight / Gathering winter fuuu-eeel‘ but ‘when old Keefy was observed / A-playing with his tooooo-el‘.   I was particularly pleased with ‘a-playing’, which I felt lent a contemporary and authentic feel.   Having read that paragraph back, I’d like to clarify that it was twenty members of a primary school orchestra, not a bunch of wandering twenty eight year old carol butchers.

The final act of 2010 involved placing a number of cups of cold coffee onto the roof of Keith’s car, which he had driven into the market proper in order to load it without carrying stock across icy cobblestones.  Keith, being inside the car as Danny and I chatted to him through the near side window, didn’t notice until he had driven into stationary traffic on Church Street.   He definitely noticed then, because a fellow motorist pointed them out and I heard the word ‘Wankers’ being expressed very loudly from my vantage point perhaps six feet away, to where I had jogged in order to monitor proceedings.

Christmasses at Camden Lock were typified by endless Libertys’ chocolate advent calenders, delivered by the theft fairy, which we would consume in lieu of actual food for much of the festive season.   These days, I favour tins of sardines and mackeral, as I have adopted a market place diet resembling that of a puffin, but the Christmas run itself remains exhausting.  I am not entirely comfortable with the idea that a business that operates all year is still largely dependent upon a four week run from the end of November to the last weekend before Yule, and this is something I’d like us to address in 2011.   For example, the heavy snowfall on the 18th cost us over the subsequent four days perhaps 3% of our entire Greenwich turnover for the year.   But this is not a time of year to accentuate the negative.   In 2010, I bought two jackets, a camera, a pair of shoes, a vintage West Ham shirt from a Spitalfields trader at the Thames Festival and several pairs of socks, which all told represents a lavish display of opulence on my part.  As a result, our fiscal status, which the United Nations listed as ‘poor and plummeting’ at the end of 2008, and ’skint but stabilising’ at the end of 2009, has now been officially recognised as ‘unwealthy but underwear buying’, which is encouraging.   I have even taken to playing the Lottery again, but I do it by direct debit, which now I come to think of it is perhaps the most bourgeois thing in the world.

There were, of course, a number of things we didn’t do in 2010.   We were all set to record podcasts from the Duke at the beginning of the year, but the truth is I find the whole idea slightly appalling.   While certainly prone to introspection, I am not a naturally self indulgent man.   I had, for example, to be nagged for several months by Gary and the Goat Bag Man to start this blog, as I consider that the first rule of blogging is that everyone who keeps a blog almost certainly shouldn’t.   Therefore, imagining that the world is waiting in breathless anticipation of your every conscious utterance via unscripted podcast from a threadbare pub in which you have been drinking solidly for several hours is simply a delusion too far for my liking.

Perhaps uniquely in our line of business we never know what’s round the corner – although experience has taught us that it’s likely to be unwashed, unwelcome and unsavoury – and while we have more irons in the fire than at any time previously there’s no guarantee that anything will come of any of them.  It is fortunate indeed that we love our work even when it hates us, as there remains nowhere else for us to go and nothing else for us to do.  However, I remain confident that eventually some good will come of this uneasy alliance between enjoyment and necessity, and I suspect that I will still be here droning on about it when it does.  It remains only for me to add our best wishes for all the blessings and available goodwills of the season to be generously bestowed upon you.  As the good ship publicgriefjunkie drops anchor for the very last time in 2010, I shall retire from the bridge and take up a position under a mountain range of blankets on my sofa where I intend, like I suspect so many of us, to continue reading Peter Guant’s excellent Essential History of the English Civil War.   I might skip the end though – the Cavaliers seem to have it pretty much in the bag.

Photards: This week’s rummage through the photographic archives has churned up the following horrific memories:

Top: Turpin Lane, Greenwich Market in the snow.

Middle: Main entrance to Greenwich Market, with snow which fell within a surreal twenty minute blizzard, during which you could not see one side of Nelson Road from the other.   Note heavy tarpaulin sheets rapidly deployed in a largely vain attempt to keep stock dry.  Right hand trader has already chucked it in like a hypothermic lightweight.

Lower: At the Duke of Wellington.   From left: Chris, who makes the Milky Bar Kid look like Didier Drogba, Gary, and Louis.   This was the first pint of the evening, and look how intently Gary and Lou are listening to Chris banging on about something he read in the Guardian, probably.   Chris is a formidable drinking partner, and six hours later we were at the same table discussing in an exuberant and animated manner how brilliant every single thing about the Smiths was, over cigars and a sea of empty glasses, as Bigmouth Strikes Again had unexpectedly come on the jukebox and nearly reduced us to tears.

Twitter: Very important for keeping abreast of what Guardian readers – such as Chris – think about stuff.    That said, it’s not difficult to guess what Guardian readers think about stuff, so you aren’t missing much.

Facebook: We did creep up to – yet again – to 118 members, but then it went back down to 117 again.   It’s been either 117 or 118 since May.

Leave a Comment