Culture Clash down the Chapel

The farmers market has come to Chapel Market on Wednesdays. We headed down there for the first one keen to be able to buy our organic veg somewhere other than at the supermarket which somehow undermines the whole ethos. They’ve stuck the farmers down our end of the market, the grotty end. Even the guys selling dodgy plastic shoes don’t venture up this far.
Sure enough it’s deserted. The farmers look a bit disconsolate. They’re used to the well-heeled Sunday crowd who flock to their Sunday job on Islington Green – barristers and style-conscious twenty-somethings purchasing produce for Jamie Oliver recipes to impress friends with. The Chapel, or just plain ‘Chapel’ as some on our estate call it, is one of the last great bastions of working-class Islington. Duracell batteries lifted from Woolworths and Sainsburys and flogged for a quid. Designer T-shirts for a fiver. Pot-boiler romances third-hand by the box. Pot smoking paraphernalia (I regret not buying the Bin-Laden spliff-holder). The Arsenal merch stall currently bedecked with England flags and kits. And of course fruit and veg and fresh fish.
The fruit and veg sellers are the back-bone of any street market. The one outside the Alma is my favourite, they just have a few things of quality and the old fat guy (the granddad?) sat on a chair behind picking out all the grotty stuff and chucking it in a box and he usually has a pint under his chair. The fella opposite works his son like a dog so I was pleased to see him looking at the gleaming stalls of the farmers market scratching his worried brow. “Well, well…” And there it was perfectly illustrated. The rosey-cheeked country folk with their wholesome organic produce cultivated by their own hand and the traditional fruit and veg seller, son on the stall instead of at school, knackered from the dawn run to New Covent Garden to get the last cheap scraps to flog at the Chapel.
The guy selling trout also supplies The Savoy. The non-organic fella down the traditional end with his grubby fingers barely supplies the roughest estates. Y’know though at the end of the day the queues of old dears with their granny-wagons and estate Mums with prams were at the stalls they’d always gone to. You need barrister’s wives to pay £1.50 a kilo for organic broad beans (50p down the other end) and they don’t venture further up the Chapel than Marks and Spencer’s down the end.


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