Thursday, 24 April 2014


So it's the winter of 1968-69 a particularly cold one err. Term has finished and I'm working for a. Firm. Doing a traffic survey around Spitalfields Market fruit and veg market. My grant's blown and I'm near broke. And the job is the only way I can muster some cash for the festive season including. The price of getting to Tyneside on Christmas eve. The work involves standing at set locations and recording traffic movements. Four wheeled vehicles. Six wheeled vehicles. Multi-axle vehicles. Around the market. There are about thirty of us doing it in two shifts seven 'til three. Then three 'till eleven you get. An hour break and head for the Wimpey bar for a burger and coffee. Spun out for an hour to try to get warm again. Spitalfields is interesting territory.  Transit camp for immigrants to London. Huguenot silk weavers. East European Jewish tailors. Bangladeshi rag-trade sweat shops. East of the market was 'Ripper Territory' ah. In 1968 it was not greatly different in its. Dark and dingy streets from what it probably was eighty years before. Christ Church a Hawksmoor. Near derelict. Since restored to a very high standard. Stood on the north-west corner on Commercial Street. Ah. A busy pitch that one you got millions of passing vehicles to record. The population comprised meths. And anything else. Drinking dossers who lived on rough ground just outside the market huddled 'round bonfires. The. Local. Corps of. Ladies of the night. Hundreds of down and outs. Queued each night at the Salvation Army hostel in Middlesex Street. Try to get a bed for the night and a bowl of soup. One day the drinkers lost one of their own who fell into the bonfire. Dead drunk and. Decidedly dead thereafter. It shook the survey team but not the drunks. So. There I am. Late one night. Sat on an orange crate outside a pub in Bishopsgate. Conscientiously entering ticks in columns for cars taxis. Light goods vehicles, heavy wagons etc. Freezing cold. Two-hours past the Wimpey break. And one of the local ladies of the night comes out of the pub with a glass of whisky and hands it to me. If I'd been wearing a hat I would have taken it off to her. Made enough to finance. Retention. Of room in digs over the Christmas holiday period and a few quid for the holiday period. Decided to hitch home. Got tube to Barnet early on Christmas eve, Then bus to A1 junction. Then scored. Super-lift from blonde lady to A68 junction west of Darlington. Arriving there as just getting dark. Further lift prospects poor, so. Got bus into Darlington. Bus to Newcastle and bus home. To south-east Northumberland.

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