An encounter, of the awful kind.

There is a small Italian man at the market, he speaks with such a strong accent that sometimes I just can't understand a word. He carries a laptop case all the time, which he just sees as a handy padded bag, and wears a small cap which makes him look like a schoolboy - a schoolboy with a white moustache that is grubby yellow on the ends.PhotobucketLast week he cornered me, he was eating some bread. "Ah bake it mahself" he said "wow, well done" I said "Iz very easy" he said; suddenly just a bit too close to me.
When I'm out buying I don't really like to partake in idle chit-chat, I'm too focused on the matter in hand. So the scene that ensued was utterly horrifying . . .
"Iz simple, you just need flour - you know flour? - white flour, stroooong flour. Iz on offer in Tesco now, you know Tesco? Iz just down the hill on left, that Tesco, very good offer, buy one get one free. You take flour, you need salt, not too much salt, just a little salt, otherwise iz too salty, you know? . . ." And so it went on for bloody ages, I felt my energy being sapped from me. I knew I could just walk away if I wanted, but politeness seemed to have rooted me to the spot. Bloody manners - driving me nuts.
Just when I feared I might cry he seemed to wind down a bit - I jumped on the opportunity and said, as cheerfully as I could muster - "brilliant, well you didn't bring any for us folks!" - I rolled my eyes jokily and turned on my heel to flee.
"wait!" he said . . . "I got some for you . . . to try" he put his arm up to his elbow in the laptop bag and when he pulled it out there was a crumbling boulder of bread in his fist.
He gave it to me . . . I took it in my hand . . . and in slow motion I raised it to my face . . . I could see it coming closer, it looked dirty. As it got near them my lips turned inwards, puckering, trying to protect my precious mouth from the dry, greying lump. He was watching me expectantly. I put it against my face but my mouth wasn't open, I just couldn't open it.
Then suddenly my head cleared, my hand dropped, I looked right at him with the quivering look of someone that had just been rescued from the firing squad and hurriedly walked away. I've discovered the limits of my manners.
A very fine Sunday, car booting in Kent followed by a stroll and a splash in a dirty river.PhotobucketIt was cold. PhotobucketI have a new favourite shirt, it's like a dress and I wear it all the ruddy time, it's so nice and cool. I bought it from Sam at the market - he looked like a louche Hendrix type character in it, I look like a milkmaid in it. PhotobucketThis chap came back from pottery this week, he looks in the kitchen window now - I can't quite figure out what he's thinking. Photobucket

Some words from Marie

Photobucket"I've always bought nice old things, I used to have my little buying forays.  When I was teaching I would bring great things home - things they were chucking out. I've got all the old school posters, lovely old illustrations. I've always collected bits like that. They had beautiful old maps that I was going to take home but we had a rat in the stock cupboard and it nibbled all the ends - they were lovely, old ones showing the empire.
I got ill and I had to leave school; I was only meant to be on sick leave but didn't get better so I couldn't go back. I was really unwell for quite a long time - I think it was a lot to do with stress. The job was really stressful - I was teacher governor and we had a lot of problems with our Head. When I was ill i couldn't really do anything so when I started to get a bit better I thought I'd do a stall. I'd been to a fair and people were selling enamel, I thought I could do it - I could enjoy collecting and  finding it, without having to think 'oh god where am i going to keep it all' . That was about 7 or 8 years ago now. Ellis (my husband) has helped me so much, he's even more supportive than he was before; helping me to carry everything."Photobucket Photobucket"I've liked enamel for so long. I started buying it just for myself - until I got to the point where i couldn't really buy any more. I don't know that it is about it, I love the colours. I think it's its durability appeals as well, there's something very solid about it - the feeling that someone's had it for years and years and years. I love all that, thinking which house it was in before, who might have used it. I like other things but its always been enamel. I keep the chinese enamel for myself  - it's got the big blousy roses on it.  I'm just drawn to kitchen stuff, I've always had the same taste, I don't think I've changed. I've adapted a bit to what sells well but then even that is changeable: sometimes I'll sell loads of colanders, say, so I think 'I'll get more colanders' then I don't sell one for ages. It's weird." Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket"When I'm buying I don't mind if people know I'm a dealer. Apart from in charity shops where I have a code - I'll say to Ellis 'do you think maggy would like it?' which means 'any good for the stall?'. I don't get much in charity shops, if I do sometimes I feel a bit bad - but not for long.
I was very green when I first started - I'd tell everybody how much I made and what was selling and some people are a bit ruthless in the market, they'd start buying the same stuff. Sometimes you have to be a bit tight-lipped, it's every woman for herself. Recently I had this amazing bread bin, oh my god it was just beautiful, a big old one. I didn't research it. I just put it out on my table and a lady came and bought it, she said her friend would love it for her birthday. Then I saw it on the same ladies stall in Camden passage for much, much more money. Couple of weeks later I bumped into her and said - 'did your friend like her bread bin?' and she said 'oh yes, she loved it'."Photobucket"It's not a job really - there's no pressure, you're your own boss, you do what you want when you want. But I think for me it's different, for some people it's their living so it must be more stressful - they need what they make to pay their rent. I'm in a fortunate position that it's just like a hobby really.
The money's lovely as a little extra but mostly i just turn it over. I get a nice little amount sometimes that I can put away or I maybe use it to get my hair done. I really enjoy it - when you're not working you miss the social aspects of your job, I miss the children and the parents and getting to know people from all cultures. You miss your colleagues and going for meals when it's somebody's birthday. To some extent I've got that back again at the market: making friends outside of your immediate family - not just stallholders but regulars. It's really interesting. And it's quite flattering - the fact that the stuff your choosing someone else likes you think 'I must have a bit of taste'."Photobucket
"Jarvis Cocker bought one of the tea cosies I knitted, as well as Tracey, must be something about tea cosies. Tracey bought a little baby cup from me and she was asking how the market was going, it's nice - I think famous people like to be able to just talk to you normally. Then there's George he just buys bits of china: of course he never uses any of it, but he likes it." Photobucket

This weeks toot.

Here is this weeks toot, quite a lot of it, I'm selling twice this week so I stocked up real good. Jack came with me and ended up in the car reading his book - I was so determined I wouldn't be dragged away.PhotobucketA little Victorian purse. PhotobucketA toy broom, or as I would call it 'a broom that is the perfect size'. PhotobucketA selection of woody bricky bits for kids, wholesome-like.PhotobucketA proper rucksack.  PhotobucketSome marbled and speckly plastic bits - because I like them. The egg slicer is an early, dense and brittle kind of plastic.PhotobucketThe bowl is a later (maybe sixties) lighter plastic and is transparent in parts. PhotobucketA little drummer-boy outfit. It has the previous owners name inside, the most perfect name for a little drummer-boy: Neville. PhotobucketAnother one of them.PhotobucketSome of these parasols, which I like a lot they're nice cotton with a frill and a long spindly stem. Perfect holiday fodder.
PhotobucketA crystal ball. PhotobucketAnd a box of lead figurines to sort through, and sort through them I did - it was time well spent. PhotobucketPhotobucketSome had moving limbs, like these gents who tap their pipes, whilst taking a sit on almost identical lead benches. PhotobucketAs their almost identical dogs doze nearby. PhotobucketIt was all farm stuff apart from this lone soldier who snuck in. We reckon he probably has shell shock, poor chap.