At Edmonton
At Edmonton

Josh decided he no longer liked the soup bowls we’d had for years and having four children there’s always someone to pass things on to.
We scoured the Oxford Street stores, found possible white embossed bowls in House of Fraser but weren’t sure.

Love it or hate it – ‘it’s only something we picked up in IKEA’ we say – but we rarely come out of IKEA empty handed.

Can you go wrong for 65p?
Can you go wrong for 65p?

We found some possible plain white bowls for £1.30p and some little glass dishes we’d been looking for at 80p each.
Then on the long, long walk to the checkout we saw some very similar bowls at 65p.
At £5.20 for eight they’ll do fine. After all, it’s the look and the taste of the soup that counts and we have soup and a cheese platter once a week. Shame the small cooked breakfasts we ordered were cold. Couldn’t be bothered to waste the time complaining.

When I lived in Petticoat Lane 1931-1956, during the week the stalls mainly sold food – fruit, vegetables, fish and poultry, but on Sundays you could buy a variety of small household goods.

Memoir extract from Chapter 2 Woman in a White Coat Part 1

On Sundays the character of Petticoat Lane changed. The market expanded to Middlesex Street, Bell Lane and the cross streets. There were stalls selling leather, clothes, crockery and linen, and there were always mock auctions.We kept clear of the market on Sundays, and looked down on the gullible people who bought all that junk. They weren’t from round here.

‘It’s full of con-men,’ my father said.

A huckster, standing at the open mouth of his large van, would balance a tea set on one hand – six cups, six saucers and six tea plates – waving them around. A crowd quickly gathered.

‘Who’ll give me ten, no, five? Who’ll give me a sovereign for this genuine Royal Doulton tea service?’ he would yell.

‘There are always stooges in the crowd paid to buy a set and start him off,’ my father declared. ‘If you look round the back you’ll see them return the goods to the back of the van while everyone is listening to the salesman. Thieves the lot of them. Royal Doulton, my eye. Hong Kong Chinese more like.’

There was a gold and silver market in Cutler Street, just off Middlesex Street. My father would get up at dawn to prowl around the London flea markets before going to work. He’d spend hours in the evenings polishing his finds – silver jugs and bowls and brooches. The following Sunday he’d set up a large baize-lined wooden tray on trestle legs in Cutler Street and try to sell them. My father didn’t like me coming there every week – children were discouraged – but some Sundays he took me with him as long as mother said I hadn’t been naughty or cheeky that week. My mother said he wasn’t a good businessman and it was all a waste of time.

Although we kept away from the Sunday market in The Lane, we often went to Club Row, on the corner of Brick Lane. There you could buy puppies, kittens, rats, mice, guinea pigs, snakes and birds of all kinds. There was always a crowd around the budgies, especially towards Christmas. A budgie in a cage was just the right present for Grannie.

One man had a trained budgerigar that told your fortune for two old pence. The budgie would choose one of the tiny envelopes stacked on the tray in front of it, and the man would open it and read its message. My future looked good. I was going to marry and have four children and win the football pools. Two of the three came true.

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