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A Child's Day Out.

Market Day, Beresford Square, Woolwich....1950 ish.

 
Excitement, anticipation, of sights and sounds.
Hurry to the bus stop; hop on the bus or the tram.
The trip in; familiar sights.
 And, in the distance.....
 
The Market,
            all noise and smells,
  crowds, bustling,shuffling, smiling folk.
             People, looking, and touching, and asking,
  meeting and talking,
                  buying and selling,
                                 calling and shouting.
 
Rows of barrows, canvas clad, all lit up with strung out bulbs
 Rows of stalls, a canvas town, 
     all proudly displaying,
              all grandly arraying,
                       colourful piles of neatly stacked fruit,
                                 so neatly packed with white price tag.
 
In season plums red, black, yellow and green.
Apples and cherries, so red, so shiny they gleam. 
Oranges and lemons and tangerines,
         priced cheaper than their neighbour's,
                                             or so it seems!
 
Over the busy road that cuts through
      where wet cobble stones greet you
are stalls full of fish with glassy eyes
   that stare at you, as you walk by.
 
Neatly stacked in slimy wet piles,
       silver scaled herrings, large open mouthed cod, 
 greeny-blue marbled mackerel, shimmering masses of sprats
     and brown red haddocks.
 
Headless congers coiled and still,
    sad flat faced plaice sprinkled with ice
and fat red fingers pocking about
chipping big ice blocks full of bubbles
                                frozen and trapped.
 
And just up from the sharp smells of the fishes
     comes the loud shouts of the fella selling dishes.
“ Look at all these,” he invitingly asks,
holding up an arrangement of “finest porcelain, so lovely to see, you'll never buy
        cheaper from any one but me!”
 
Nearby another crowd are gathered around
               a man stood high aloft on a box.
  He's piling up a very flash looking transistor radio, AND a box of chocolates, AND a set of crystal tumblers.
“ Who'll give me a quid, no.... 'ang on,15 bob AND...... I'll chuck in anuver box of chocks!”
 
OK then, yer miserable sods!.....
           .....give us 'arf a nicker and I'll chuck in a slab of chocolate... on top of the pile ....to the first ones in wiv the dosh!”
    “Take the good ladies' money 'arry.”
 
 And at the end of the very long and busy day
       the hustle and the bustle slowly fades away,
               along with the crowds and the noise
                                                and the light of day.
 
Dark wet hosed-down cobble stones 
                                   reflect the streetlights
                   as the council dustmen and their carts 
                                                     shovel up the piles, 
                                                       the left over remnants of the now still Market.
 
And down the darkened side roads
         
rattle wooden, steel rimmed, wheels of the
    barrows, now empty and bare, parked, jammed into rows.
Places for kids to play on through the coming week,
       awaiting,
to be pushed and pulled out again and piled high
                  next market day,
                            come rain or shine,
                                          hail or snow.

Colin Weightman. A common kid remembers.



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