Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Columbia Road Market

McDad used to have a large collecsh of sempervivums and in a mood of missing him again, I looked online to see if it would be easy to buy a few to stick into the birch discs that had once held Christmas trees. It looked complicated and I decided to be a real person in the real world rather than a virtual person in a virtual one, and went to Columbia Road in the East End the other Sunday to see what I could see.
The first thing I saw was this delicate piece of miniature graffiti on someone's door. I think I might be rather please to wake up and find my door had been decorated like this.
The market itself was heaving- but very good-natured considering how clogged it was with people, pushchairs and even a mobility scooter being driven at a snail's pace and trapping a man in a tartan scarf in a cul-de-sac of stacked-up white polystyrene plant multipacks.
I don't think I've ever heard stall-holders shouting so loudly; they looked as though they were going to explode, some of them. Faces suffused with blood, necks outstretched and corded with vessels, eyes scrunched up, lips spitting: it was desperate! I expected showers of teeth to burst over people's heads, buttons to pop off shirts and the glass in the windows of the attendant White Vans to shatter in sympathy.

To pay for the sempervivums, I had to pick my way in an angular walk through trays of seedlings on the ground, feet at right-angles to each other, terrified of overbalancing and landing like a clumsy human bull in a frail green and tender china-shop.
I allowed the tide of people to throw me up at the edges of the market, where the scent of jasmine crept out from the back of the stalls and the racket was muffled by racks of galvanised steel containers stuffed with roses, lilies and sunflowers. Beyond them, the throngs of Sunday shoppers rustled with long brown paper cones of gypsophylla and bright blue plastic bags full of uncomfortably crushed geraniums.
Noise, noise, noise: somehow the noise of happy people in the sunshine on a gentle mission to buy plants and flowers, this noise is a kind of music.. the song of spring finally arrived.

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