Sunday, April 27, 2014

Market Days

One of my old school friends sent me this photo recently.It was taken in about 1969.It was taken the day we climbed up to the top of the school tower which was out of bounds.I suppose we took the photo to prove to the other kids that we had been up there.You can see the tower from the outside in the other picture.
My friends name is Darryl but at school he had the nickname Daz.I hadn't seen that photo for 43 years and it certainly brought some memories flooding back.I might write a story about school days later but what i remember most about Daz was us working together on Peterborough Market on Saturdays.We worked for Mr Holdich selling fruit and vegetables. Daz and i got there first and set up the trestle tables then Mr and Mrs Holdich turned up in the lorry with Peter who was this skinny little urchin.
"Morning Daz",said Peter
"Piss off".
"Morning Pat",
"Get stuffed".
Then we would grab hold of him and put some dirt off the carrots down his neck.
"Look,stop picking on Peter,he hasn't got a father and his mother is no good",explained Mr Holdich.One day Peter announced he was joining the army,when we asked why he said,"Well its a good life",then we asked what the money was like,"I'm not sure but its bound to be good".How long had he signed up for? "er,I'm not sure",It turned out to be nine years.About two weeks after he joined the army he phoned up Mr Holdich and he was crying,"Can you buy me out of the army please Mr Holdich? the other boys keep beating me up".Mr Holdich had to pay £400 to buy him out of the army and he came back to the market.
Once we had the lorry unloaded Daz and i ran along the front chucking the prices on everything, often the price tickets would land back to front.
"Look,we know the prices, its the customers who want to know the bloody prices",Said Mr Holdich.If a nice looking woman walked by Mr Holdich would say,"I bet she can perform".
.A very attractive lady used to come to the stall every Saturday morning and Mr Holdich would say,
"You see her over there,she was Miss Sawtry 1947,i could have married her, but look at what i had to go and bloody marry".Mrs Holdich was a funny woman with frizzy hair and a red face and some peculiar habits that i won't go into.
                       Mr Holdich grew all the vegetables himself on his farm and he kept pigs as well.One day i said i wouldn't mind being a farmer.
"No,to be a farmer you have to start off with about £30,000 so you can lose it all like i have", he explained.You couldn't help liking him,he had such an unfortunate life.Once he got burgled and the thieves even stole his wheelbarrow to take away his safe.Mr Holdich was quite proud of the fact that the story got in the national daily papers.
 The bloke on the opposite stall was a cockney called Ginger who attracted customers by shouting out all this lingo like,"Sixpence each yer peach,every one a ball of wine, one and six a pound yer boy scouts,yer brussell sprouts,don't forget your mother,you;ll never get another,get your runners and riders here" etc and all that kind of carry on.When he was advertising his spuds he would shout out,"Lincolnshires" and Daz and i would shout out "Pinking shears",just to annoy him.We said to Mr Holdich that he should give it a go and do a bit of barking.
"Cheap carrots, cheap carrots"he squeaked
halfheartedly. He was crap at it so we told him to shut up.The market cleaner was called Kingy,he was a funny little bugger, he wore a cloth cap and always kept a Jamaica cake in his pocket and cut of a slice with a day he turned up at the stall without his sweeping brush.
"They've gorn and retired me Gordon, i don't know what i'm going to do",
"Don't worry Kingy, you can work with us",said Mr Holdich who was too kind for his own good.Before long Mrs Holdich had sacked him for stealing.
"Honest Gordon,i never nicked no ten bob".
"No, it was a pound note, i saw you put it in your pocket", said Mrs Holdich.
                                                                                                                     The market stall used to get really busy and Daz and i were brilliant at serving the customers at speed.One Christmas Mr Holdich put me in charge of selling Christmas trees and holly against a wall at the side of the market.The holly was really good,covered in berries and all these women just dived on it and were almost fighting over it.I lost all control and just let them get on with it.Another time i remember seeing two women fighting when one of them caught her husband out shopping with his fancy woman.That was really vicious..We used to be on the market from 6.00 in the morning until about 7.00 in the evening.Then I'd head home with a big bag of fruit and vegetables for my mum.
                 Saturday nights we used to go to the flicks and see films like Butch Cassady And The Sundance Kid or Midnight Cowboy.Sometimes there were parties and we would drink Watneys Party 7's and Woodpecker Cider.One night me and Daz and another friend Richard were walking home from a party and we met this skinhead who had just come out of a chip shop. He put his chips down on a wall and challenged all three to a fight.He kept persisting till in the end Daz got fed up and punched him on the nose.He realised he had bitten off more than he could chew and ran off but he tripped over on the road which had been newly surfaced and his face was covered in tar and bits of gravel.To add insult to injury we ate his chips.
              Two happy years went by working for Mr Holdich until finally it was the end of summer of 1970. I was off to college.It was a beautiful day as i got on the train bound for North Wales.As Peterborough  disappeared into the distance little did i realise what lay ahead.A new chapter in my brilliant career was about to begin.

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