Friday, 22 January 2016

One pound fish

Cries of London is a beautifully-produced book on the subject of street traders by The Gentle Author. You can find out more about the book and its anonymous writer here.

It's a fascinating assembly of images from humble chapbooks and other sources since the time of Pepys, accompanied by short essays by TGA himself. He has overlooked one cry, a personal favourite of mine: the corset seller Madame Birnberg was one of the Berwick Street market 'schleppers' (fast-talking rag-traders who stood in the street hollering at pedestrians) and in the 1930s she became famous for her arresting delivery of her magnificent cry: 'It'll pull you in, duck!'

The Gentle Author brings us up to date with this singing fishmonger in East London's Upton Park market (who, I understand, is a now a wealthy pop star in his native Pakistan).

Come on ladies, come on ladies
One pound fish
Have-a, have-a look
One pound fish.

More than 14 million people have watched his performance. Catchy isn't the word:

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