Saturday sunshine – honey on a slice of white – spreads the length of South Street. Its smear blesses nearly every pale thing. The windows in the terraces cannot help but grin. Front doors yawn on their hinges. The traffic rolls up and down in slow motion, the engine sweat beneath the bonnet; a cyclist paddles by, her white dress rising to her knee with each stroke. There are two dogs sniffing at each other in a dance. The owners’ tongues are wagging. The morning market buzzes with browsers, buyers and sellers. Barter being the business of weekends.
Pushchairs and wheelchairs and trolleys chariot, shopping bags and shoulder bags tangle, and the endless people brush. Beneath the hubbub sorry is the battle-hush! The treasures on the trestles sparkle, gather heat. There is a breeze. Lovely breeze.It is flapping through the tarps with a sound like a little pair of wings on glass.
The market traders (these ones, this one) are bronzing. Blue tattoos and moustaches. Grey beards. Brylcreem. ‘This is The Last Stand’ declares one banner above a stall selling drill bits, Brillo pads, eight track albums and vinyl. Welcome To The Cheap Sweets declares another. They, enthusiastic, pretend to chat. They sip, wipe coffee, from polystyrene cups, from chins. They reminisce the night before, the decade before, the century before: romancing the Stones. Their faces show that their tales can only ever become more mythic, more tedious with each practiced telling.
Couples and trios shoot breeze amidst the bric-a-brac of old corkscrews and toys. One hundred years of used postcards depicting every county, shoebox filed… humorous, local, historical, christmas, birthday, smutty, seaside.
Eggs. Double yolkers and duck, nested in pulp card cups of six, of twelve; a downy feather, yard-dirt, chicken crap. Mushrooms. Broccoli. Asparagus.
Tobacco tins, brimming with screws and nuts and bolts; buttons (tin not for sale). There are ancient and rusted garden implements, demob and dead mens’ suits. Polyester, nylon and rayon dresses, hang with more contemporary cotton numbers from wire coat hangers, strung on string. Here are some wooden boxes: hand painted; over varnished, under varnished, distressed, rotting, decorative. Recycled beach trawl. Pretend wood sidles up to dead wood, and everywhere, trays and dishes and anything you fancy, rendered wood effect.
Picture frames. Crockery waiting to be stylish again. Iconic, ironic, un-ironed. A rabbit, skinned. Collections of flies luxuriate; backs made bluer by the pink flesh legs of the cony.
Here are the three wise monkeys. They crouch, totemed on a trestle table. The brown teak simians reveal themselves, quite soon, to be nothing more than shit-coloured plastic, rendered, furniture, functional; styling it seems, for the bathroom: ‘See-no’ squats at the base, little crappy monkey hands plastering his face. On his shoulders, ‘Speak-no’ covers his mouth in a not-quite clench of the fists. His plastic palms are pierced. On top of his shoulders, ‘Hear-no’, hands clamped over his monkey ears. His elbows protrude forward and I see that they have attachments at the end allowing a roll of toilet paper to be at hand. The space between ‘Speak-no’s fists is a space for him to clutch a toilet brush! Unfeasibly shit.
Tables are crowded with potted plants in varying stages of life. Rock n Roll memorabilia: Some is the deal, some is the cod. Beatle mittens, peace signs, the Bowie coke mirror. Syd Barrett looking pretty, yellowed music weeklies. Toby jugs and wolves. Fairies and angels and devils and dwarves. A collection of lapel badges. Marilyn Monroe. Apollo mission, of course. Fruit boxes stuffed with paperbacks, Bukowski and Castenada and Plath. Books on gardening, books on local history, books on mystery. Second-hand; recycled, revised, retro tat. All the things left in attics over the years; all the unwanted given things; the inheritance never needed. But little treasures to some.
Here is an old transistor radio. Bakelite. The display of wavelengths, of stations, of numbers, really quite alien. A length of snapped off aerial and, placed beside it, a handwritten –
‘Brocken! – serious offers only!’