“Memories, light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories of the way we were.
Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind
smiles we give to one another
for the way we were…”
Isn’t it great how reading what one of our blogging friends writes leads us off into worlds of our own?
One of my blogging friends Hallysan (sorry I don’t know her name in the real world) wrote today about haggling. See her post here. While I do occasionally go to the market here I was instantly transported back to Saturday markets when I was growing up in the east end of London.
Our particular market was Ridley Road in Dalston. Way back then there were very few immigrants in the area and consequently we didn’t have the diversity of produce and products that are on sale now. Saturday was the main market day and this is when mother and her three daughters did the shopping. Remember, there were no supermarkets then and before going to the market we went to Sainsbury’s or the Co-op to do the grocery shopping.
After buying the butter, cheese, tea and other necessities for the week, we made our way to The Market. This was a loud, lively place with stallholders (costermongers) calling out attracting us to buy their wares. Shortly after the second world war ended there was no great variety. Vegetables and fruit in season that had to be weighed by the stallholder. Pat Cryer talks about this in detail. Visit her website and I have talked about shopping when I was growing up in an earlier blog.
On Sundays, after father returned from the war he would take us to Petticoat Lane or the Lane as it was called by those of us who lived nearby.
Again, remember this was shortly after the war ended and there were very few tourists or immigrants. The stalls were all manned or womaned by true Londoners with their cockney accents, calling out to see what they had on offer. And they had great things – “Look here Luv. Look at this lovely dinner set. I’m not asking you ten pounds not even eight pounds – OK you can have it for a fiver (five pounds). Can’t say fairer than that. Can I?”. What characters they were.
If you have ever seen the BBC sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” you will get some idea of these characters.
There was a wide variety of things for sale from clothes, dinnerware and other china, ornaments to puppy dogs, cats and birds and everything in between. This was an exciting time for three little girls out with their father who had been away for so long. Mother was always left behind to make Sunday lunch and even writing this I can smell that lunch when we returned. We were usually cold and always excited from this trip out with Father.
Petticoat Lane is a great favourite of tourists to London now and not to be missed but it has changed and expanded since we were three little girls.
“Can it be that it was all so simple then
or has time rewritten every line?
If we had the chance to do it all again
tell me would we? Could we?”
There were several other markets in the area but these were the two we regularly visited.
Many years later I returned to both these markets. How they have changed. They are of course and because of the immigrants, both more international and many of the stallholders call out attracting folk to their stalls but the accents are no longer all cockney.
“Memories, may be beautiful and yet
what’s too painful to remember
we simply choose to forget
So it’s the laughter we will remember
whenever we remember
the way we were.”
Doesn’t Barbra Streisand singing Memories say it all? It does for me.