Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Green and the Market.

Here is a description of The Green and the Market from 1938, apart from the selling of animals it hasn't really changed a lot.

"Without its Wednesday market Boston would lose half its attractiveness. Even early on a Wednesday morning there is an atmosphere that makes it different from the ordinary day, the town puffs its chest out, feels more important because of its bustling activity. Plank-laden carts discharge their cargo for deft hands to set up the stalls, lorries with beast or poultry rattle down the streets, farmers and merchants drive up in their cars, and buses from the country districts bring visitors.

Down at the cattle pens they were already selling beast and I stood for a moment by the ring. But that is only one side of the market, and to the non farmer the least interesting. Only a few yards away the casual spectator can find much more to make him pause. Any Wednesday on Bargate Green you can walk round to find "lots" so strangely assorted that you fancy no one will ever buy them, but they do. Here is a great battery of cycles, sacks of potatoes are grouped a yard or two away and chairs, soon to be sold, are used by jaded auction attenders, a trunk load of books, a mass of twisted iron, a Chinese picture and planks of timber.

What's that he's saying now? "How much for Nelly?" Is this a slave market? But the assistant is holding up a dog. "Now come along, how much for Nelly? He's a grand dog. A shilling sir? Oh, come along, be serious, there's a collar and lead worth more than that. He's a fine ratter too is Nelly. How much am I offered? Is that the only offer I have? Very well, it's going for a shilling. A shilling to this gentleman. A few of the buyers detach themselves from the edge and move over to a young man whose hands are never still and he talks all the time. At his feet are pieces of brass, copper, taps and knobs and he is demonstrating and selling polish with which to clean them at sixpence a bottle.

Two gentlemen are selling razor blades and point out that it's silly to go paying high prices when you can get them of just the same quality at one third of the price. They joke that their most recent sale was forty of them to the Nottingham Suicide Club and all the members had died perfectly at ease and happy.
In the Market Place stallholders invite us to test their wares, these apples are unrivalled, these cough lozenges can't be equalled and this lotion was used by a personage whose name they had been requested not to mention, but these men with all their skill don't give us the kick that we get out of the salesmen on the Green. Over here is a man with a wild look in his eye, around him are linoleum pillars propped along the stall.

Outside the "Peacock" are the farmers and seed salesmen. Bronzed faces, bearded faces, jovial faces and hard faces. A crippled violinist is playing, nobody seems to take much notice of him and when a fashionably dressed woman fumbles in her bag, giving him a coin, she does it furtively, ashamed. It is tea time, parties go up into the cafes near the Market Place, women seeking a refuge from dust and noise, hugging parcels. In the streets the crowds grow smaller, one by one the stallholders take away their wares, and in the evening air the skeletons of stalls rise gaunt from a sea of paper bags and litter. Carts are loaded with the planks, lorries rumble away to distant towns, the hoses hiss in the cattle pens. Another market day is over.

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