Wednesday, 9 May 2012

ABIDE WITH ME: Photos and Extracts - the London markets

Within the pages of ABIDE WITH ME, several London markets are mentioned. London is full of markets - flower markets, fruit markets, meat markets, clothing markets.  Pretty much every community has a market of some sort.

Where I grew up, in Romford, people would come from miles around to the market.  There has been a market on the Romford market site for almost eight hundred years.  Starting off as a sheep market, then a cattle market.  When I grew up, the animals were gone, and Romford Market was very much littered with cabbage leaves and escapee oranges.  Now the cobbled stones and the cattle grids have been paved over, and what was once a thriving market is now almost skeletal in comparison to when I once knew it.  It still opens Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, and there are still all the old market traders selling their fruit and veg, and their fish, and their snyde football shirts - but there also now mobile phone stalls, specialising in unlocking your phone and there are lingerie stalls, and dried fruit stalls. And Peter the Pleater now has a shop in Brentwood, when once he had a stall on the market - I couldn't see him last time I was there, anyway. But the biggest thing is the numbers.  When I was young, you couldn't move for people.  Now there are empty pitches all over, and the old indoor market running up the top end now has a glass front.  Romford market still exists, but it's character has been paved over, just like the cobbles and the cattle grids.

Romford Market a couple of weeks ago.

'I've opened the back door and I'm havin a fag. Charlie's fillin up the kettle. As it's boilin, he's tellin me he's got hold of a pitch at Romford. Wants to know if I wanna help him out Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and do Brick Lane on me own of a Sunday. He's offerin a tonne a week for the privilege.
I'm listenin, and I ain't. Cos there's something I need to say to him. Words in the dark, cuttin themselves loose.
'So what you say, John?' he says. 'You up for it?'
Love Mum to bits, I do, but I don't wanna be stuck round here all me fuckin life, and without a bit of tank, that's where I'm fuckin endin up. I tell him I'll do it. He looks so fuckin relieved, like his fuckin life's on it, so I know Mum's put him up to it.'
From ABIDE WITH ME, p.138

Petticoat Lane is a clothing market situated near Liverpool Street station in what is now Middlesex Street, and the surrounding streets.  Mainly a Sunday market, Petticoat Lane specialises in clothes and textiles.

Petticoat Lane Market (photo courtesy of

'We're stumblin now, me and Thommo. The market's just round the corner, but we're both fucked on our feet and this cunt's still on our case. Thommo's more fucked than me, his lungs bein all stuck up with Copydex or whatever the fuck he's had up his snout lately, but I ain't fairin much better. Market ain't far, and it's gonna be packed, so we ain't got long till we can lose this cunt. Just gotta keep goin.

But there's this bloke right up ahead of us, right in our way, goin down a rubbish bin. Fuckin huge, he is. Shaved head. Wearin this big dirty green parka like a tent.
And there's something about him.'
From ABIDE WITH ME, p.94-5

Brick Lane is situated right in the heart of where the Jack the Ripper murders took places, and sells all sorts of bits and pieces - clothes, bric-a-brac, second-hand furniture, fruit, pretty much everything .  Now, Brick Lane is one of the markets to go to in London, a bit like Camden.  Where once were notorious slums, now stands a thriving market surrounded by galleries and restaurants.  A fantastic place.

Brick Lane Market (photo courtesy of
'I got me a little part-time job with a mate of Dad's, Charlie Paynter. Charlie's got this fruit and veg stall at Brick Lane, and me and Keith help put it up for him and take it down of a Sunday. Thommo ain't up for it. Too fucked off his face on Evo-Stik to get up that time of the mornin. Half past four, heftin lumps of steel up and down, tryin to bolt it together when your fingers are so cold feels like you ain't fuckin got none. But I like the harshness of it, you know, the cold and the dark. Don't even like no one talkin to me. Just wanna feel the cold and breathe the dark right in.'
From ABIDE WITH ME, p.95


  1. I used to like East Street market, though it is 'across the river'...

  2. Across the water's a different world to me, Paul. Haven't been there more than a couple of times in me life, and that's only passing through - except when we played Dulwich Hamlet a few years back, Charlton in the cup, and to see Bruce Springsteen at Crystal Palace. A different world, mate :)

  3. Ah the days of innocently using a metal pole to poke the top of a rain-laden canvas stall roof so an unsuspecting old woman would get drenched - long gone...

  4. Nice post, the visuals really added to the enjoyment of the excellent excerpts.

  5. Ordered the book yesterday from Amazon - I was a bit wary of the 'vernacular' mentioned in a review because it can be bloody painful, but being able to 'look inside (I hadn't found this page then) let me see it'd be no problem. Looking forward to reading it.

  6. Thanks everyone for your replies. And thank you, Sandra for giving the book a go. Hope you enjoy it. Would love to hear what you make of it, either way.

    All the best,

    Ian :)