bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Here Comes Autumn!

Dear Rachel

It is the end of summer, a time of which I am rather fond.   Not that I don’t like summer – I do, it’s fine – it’s just that I will always take cosy over hot, and summer is not a cosy season.   It’s just hot.   Also, summer just happens to you, and if you don’t like it you can’t escape it.  You don’t get the  sense of achievement that you feel when sitting hammered in a pub in a howling gale.  As I think I have said before, summer is generally for people who look better the less clothes they have on, a category into which only the most kindhearted observer would continue to place me.

That said, the winter wind can really whip round a market, along the alleys and aisles formed by the rows of stalls, and the abrasive effect can be quite a trial for those of us with good cheekbones.   You soon learn cold weather survival tricks though: standing  on cardboard, for example, which keeps a surprising amount of heat in.   This is such a good trick that these days I recommend it for almost any potentially tricky or problematic situation, such as algebra, jury service, coming under sniper fire, ordering wine, and childbirth.

If you’re going to be sitting down behind your stall – which I rarely do, personally – sit on a cushion or, again, cardboard.  Keith has a cushion which Danny throws into the rubbish compactor or onto the roof or under buses as a matter of routine.  My pleas for clemency – on the grounds that the cushion is a special prescription one that Keith needs for his Nuremburgs* – usually go unheeded.   There are many inventive ways to annoy Keith, although I find that simply starting every sentence with the phrase ‘I was having sex with your wife the other day’ can work wonders.   For example, ‘Keith, I was having sex with your wife the other day and she asked me to ask if you have any spare clips I can borrow’ or ‘Keith, I was having sex with your wife the other day and she asked me to ask if you could give me a hand shifting this stall back a couple of foot’.   Over the course of a particularly long day, everything will end up somehow relating to having sex with Keith’s wife, so that it’s possible to get a larf from saying ‘Yeah Keith, what time are you going to be home tonight?  7?  Couldn’t make it 9, could you?’, because obviously, you’re going to be having sex with his wife before he gets back.    And so on, pretty much.

Food is important for warmth, obviously.  In the old days at Camden, my breakfast was three pitta breads, each one containing a fried egg, a slice of cheese, mushrooms and tomato sauce.   I still on occasion make this for myself at home, and to complete the market trading experience, spend several hours talking to people at exactly the same moment that they walk off.   I got this pitta and cholesterol delicacy from a trader called Vinray, who is now in Brick Lane, and who wore an electronic tag on his ankle for reasons that I quickly judged I’d rather not know about.   I’d follow it with two iced doughnuts from Barry the Cakes and several Marlboro Lights, until 2004, when I stopped smoking.   Pikey Dave would always call me, with some justification, a fucking slob for this.   He would always have fruit for breakfast, usually clementines and grapes from Inverness Street market – which is indeed a healthy start to the day -  but he’d consume them sitting under the canal bridge in a roughly foetal position and screaming, as he was coming off crack at the time, so it’s horses for courses really.

*Rhyming slang: Nuremburg Trials – Piles.

Twitter: Loveable and hateable at the same time.

Facebook: Holding steady at a record 118 members.   Leapt to 119 at one point, but number 119 just left a load of messages written in Arabic.   Hope we’re not in trouble.

This week’s photards are:

Top: Keith, and Alex, a nice chappie who sells leather jackets in our Hood.    Look how much Keith is breathing in and holding it.   To annoy him, I kept saying oh hang on, that didn’t work, let me take it again.   Immediately after this photograph was taken, he fainted from lack of oxygen.

Middle: The Way We Were – East Yard traders, summer 2008. From left to right: Slack Matt, who as you may recall once optimistically tried to get up Emma Watson as she wandered past his stall.   Yannick (with back to camera due to ugliness reasons) still going strong at Camden, and in all likelihood about to get some work from us.  American Jeff, a loud and hugely likable cartoonist who works include this thing with the sky raining eyeballs.  Next to him is our very own Goat Bag Man, still at large in the East Yard.  No matter what your favourite  subject – heroin addiction in ’70s Luton or violent children in ’80s comprehensive schools – the Goat Bag Man has a heart warming tale to tell you.  Next to him is our also very own pampered Hoxton honkey Chrissy Boy, who has a genetic make up of 25% lady, 25% baby deer, 25% facial moisturiser and 25% lace handkerchief.  Chris is still on the Camden radar but more likely to be found around Brick Lane these days.   Next to Chris would’ve been myself had I not been taking the photard.  On the far right hand side is Tony, the man who brought aprons to Camden Lock, and who is now based at Covent Garden.

Lower: Self, asleep at the Camden stall, sometime in 2008.   I wasn’t missing much.


  1. Rachel

    Oct 4th, 2010
    1:47 am

    hell yeah, change of seasons. break out the quilts and the hot tea!

  2. Paul

    Oct 4th, 2010
    2:27 am

    Yeah, call me unfashionable, but I do like autumn. Summer is for lazy people.

  3. Joshua

    Oct 4th, 2010
    8:38 am

    I was just telling Rachel the other day, “He says he’s cockney. Why does he not do rhyming slang all the time? He’s got to be storing something up the old apple and pears, or have a relative that’s brown bread, or go out for a pig’s ear, at some point. Why does he not do these things?”

    And there you go. You did it. It warms my cockles.

  4. Seabreeze

    Oct 4th, 2010
    10:51 am

    I love Keith, and like so many have sex regularly with his wife, although I do feel that you are a little mean on the old chap.
    And regarding this changing of the seasons stuff personally I’d rather be hot than cold and for this reason I say poo to Autumn. Lazy I must be.

  5. Paul

    Oct 4th, 2010
    5:10 pm

    Ha. Glad to be of service. Or rather, glad to be of service guv’nor.

    You’re commendably close to the mark with your slang, although you’re more likely to go for a couple of Britneys than a couple of pigs these days.

  6. Paul

    Oct 4th, 2010
    5:12 pm

    I’m not that mean to Keith. I don’t particularly want to have sex with his wife, but the last time I went round she’d made me a dinner, so I felt compelled to.

  7. Kim

    Oct 4th, 2010
    8:58 pm

    You’re an utter joy, and we only met you the once ;) (In Camden, I bought 2 teeshirts off you :)

  8. Paul

    Oct 4th, 2010
    10:55 pm

    Thanks, I get called that a lot. Oh hang on, no I don’t. Anyway, that must have been years ago, I hope they are lasting well.

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