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Roots Hall Market

Markets are places I don’t visit very often and when I do go, I wonder why I don’t. But even when I remember to go, and am in awe of the cost savings opportunities, I find it hard to actually buy things. I am distracted by the many distractions. The shouts of the traders, the jokes they crack with punters, the ramshackle pricing structure, the feeling that I should be up for a haggle. As much as I am drawn in by it all, I am also repelled. It always seems so foreign. Foreign is not a word I like when applied to countries or people, but I am as unsighted down the road, in the market in the car park of the Southend Shrimpers Football stadium, as I remember being when I first arrived in Delhi. Roots Hall Market feels foreign to me.

I go there so rarely, that I noticed a difference from last time, which was probably last year, or the year before. There were not just the stallholders now; now there are cars, and the contents of the cars, tipped or arranged (depending on the driver’s disposition) on the ground in front of the car. It’s like a car boot sale mashed up with a market. It reminded me of the Hackney Wick market which I went to just once, despite living nearby. The Wick market was huge and intimidating. We bought a radio with no innards. Even now, I can’t see a blue plastic carrier bag without thinking of the Wick market, it was the mode of transport for the goods and the bads de rigueur.

The Wick market is long gone, replaced by the Olympic Park. Roots Hall will go in due course too – the football club is planning a new stadium and Sainsburys have their orange eyes on the site. I would like to get into the market shopping thing a bit more before it is gone forever. In the end, I overcame my nervousness the other day and bought 40 pegs, two tubes of Super Glue (one for glass) an Art Nouveau coffee tin (without a lid) and two books: one by Doris Lessing, the other by Enid Blyton. Total cost ¬£4.30. I forced myself to not buy the Concorde Wedgwood dish, Concorde cutlery, stamped British Airways, and Concorde Royal Doulton side plates. Perhaps it is the hope of finding more British Airways crockery that draws me back. A few years ago I bought four British Airways duck egg blue, china bowls; I’ve only got one left now and, of course at the price, I wish that I’d bought a dozen.

In future, aside from hoping to see some more of those little blue bowls, if I get brave enough, I’d like to take a camera; in the meantime I took a mental snapshot with words, and fiddled it into a haiku.

Cheap seventh-hand books
fingertips, furtling, play spines
On dust, piano

I photographed my tin when I got home. I like that when I touch it the metal’s rustiness comes off on my hands and that its old age refuses to allow me to get it into any kind of focus.