bored of excitement – the griefjunkie blog 

Slapstick On The Stairs

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.

Reflecting the role that physical strength plays in market trading, and perhaps inspired by the Olympics, Danny recently opened a gymnasium in Keith’s stall. This is an efficient way for Danny to kill two birds with one stone: the two birds being a) quiet afternoons at Greenwich Market and b) annoying Keith. The stone is not a gym in a traditional sense, but rather a series of strength testing exercises utilising the structural framework of the stall itself, such as the pull ups I indulged in on the central roof bar. Pulls ups are the kind of activity where you would expect weight loss would be a benefit, but they are deceptive. The first one is easy, the second one seems difficult out of all proportion, and by the fourth you feel as if your arms are melting. Three is considered a sufficient test of masculinity in Danny’s gym – or, as he likes to call it make Keith feel better, Keith’s Gym – and I struggled to five, while Danny himself did seven, but was being aided by one of the porters for the last three.

The Greenwich market porters, like all market porters anywhere, are incredible. They would have their own Olympics, if I had my way. They are incredible in the range of things they are incredible at too, so visitors to their Olympics could marvel at the amount and variety of substances they can consume (gold for Camden), the superior and unfriendly attitude they exhibit (gold for Portobello, silver for Borough), or as demonstrated at Greenwich, the amount of pull ups they can perform in a market stall. In true Olympic spirit, this inspires greatness in others – Keith for example, who, angered by proceedings, poured forth such an incredible range and volume of insults that, were it written down in standard newspaper font, would stretch from London to Montreal.


This is likely to be the last post for quite a while. I’m sure we’ll be back in due course, but if we should never meet again, thanks for popping in. It’s been seven years altogether and yes, we thought we’d have found a way out of this mess by now, too.



Kindle: If you’ve subscribed, this might be a good time to cancel. That said, this week we’re at 173,357 in the Kindle listings. Just in front of us is ‘Crossing Jordan: Risking It All To Walk With In The Favour Of God’ and just behind is ‘Treasures From The Journal Of Discourses’. Bearing in mind that this far down the listings it’s all nutters, my tip is the Discourses one, as it is a record of spontaneous speeches covering subjects such as ‘Can resurrected people give birth and if so are their offspring technically ghosts?’ and ‘What changes can we expect when the millennium begins?’ This latter point dates it somewhat, although I should imagine the answer has a lot to do with God, the Chosen People, and so forth, and is nonsense.

Photards: One last rummage through the shoe box of instamatics in the wardrobe has revealed:

Top: Mike, aka Childbrain, and Les at Greenwich Market. They wander down the central aisle every morning and wander back up every evening, and closely resemble a scene from a church in which Laurel and Hardy are getting married.

Middle: One of Keith’s Cuba prints. I have this one up in my living room. It was taken outside a bar in Havana and all these people have rushed outside to watch a parade. My three favourite things are a) the jacket worn by the lady in the middle b) the older lady in the white top, who looks kind and c) Paul McCartney on the right. The dogs are all nice too, especially the one who appears to be wearing a tiny bowler hat.

Lower: Four of the Whitechapel Legitimate Businessmen’s Club at the Duke of Wellington public house, Toynbee Street, London E1. Who knows – we may not have heard the last of them.

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