I should remember that if an expected (though not overdue) business email has not arrived by 11.30 on Sunday night, it’s unlikely to be here at 7.30 on Monday morning.
Sad to say, the computer and the camera are not at present on speaking terms. I took the precaution of restarting the computer before plugging in the camera in the hope of preventing a problem and it was when I tried to look at the photos that the computer crashed, so I’ve lost my photos. At least I’d shown my daughter the film I”d taken at the station, when we suddenly found out that Pugsley could say her name.
When a baby starts using words, it isn’t always that obvious what they are – that is, whether it’s really words or just sounds. My daughter reminded me when Squiffany was a baby and they went out of the back door of a café and she looked at the grass and said “garden”. But she didn’t say the word again for months.
Dilly and the children drove me to the station and Dilly asked Squiffany if she knew where I was going – whom do they usually bring here? “El and Phil”, realised Squiffany. “Last syllable of El’s name” piped up Pugsley. Startled, we asked him to repeat it. He did, several times, until I got the camera out and then he needed some persuasion. But he did in the end.
I’m sorry, also, to have lost the picture of El and Phil stranded in the fountain – and the artistic one of the rainbow seen in the fountain. I rudely snapped (without his knowledge) a young man with the worst hairstyle I’ve ever seen. I was looking forward to showing you that. He had very red hair and he had decided to shave it off all around the sides and leave it sticking up like a bog brush on top. The contrast between pale bristly head and red topknot was ugly, not in an aggressive “you thinking of messing with me, mate?” way but a “yeah, I know it was a really dismal mistake but I really feel those summer evening draughts and I’m too cold to cut it all off” one.
We arrived at the restaurant at 6 o’clock, just as the market had finished for the day, so we watched all the barrowboys pack up. As they were stacking the boxes on top of the barrows, an elderly Indian lady in a sari, clutching a couple of shopping bags, came along, eyes darting. She put down her bags and dived towards a fallen onion. Then a slightly dented cabbage. There was a turnip, but she rejected the green pepper, which must have been too soft. I rather applauded her – I don’t like waste either, and she punctiliously waited until there was no question that the stallholder was going to pick them up himself.
A man came along, wearing a cheap suit and eating fish and chips. The bits of batter he didn’t want were chucked on the ground with the vegetable debris. “Nice,” said El. “I expect he feeds the rats in his own backyard, too.” Fortunately, there are always London pigeons on hand and they cleared most of it up before the council refuse collectors came along. We wondered if all the stallholders pay equal amounts for rubbish clearing – some of the stalls left little or no rubbish, whereas the greengrocers made a real mess.
We know a barrowboy in Portobello Road. He says that local people are too posh to do their greengrocery shopping with him any more – round there they all go to the supermarkets, or maybe they buy their organic vegetable boxes and have them driven in from the countryside. He sells fruit to people scurrying out at lunchtime, or simple veg and salads to those hurrying home at the end of the day who have run out of tomatoes or need a stick of celery. Chapel Market is still busy though. A tough life – only shut on Mondays, El tells me, but each other day they are there for long hours in all weathers.