Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Watch Man

Spitalfields Market on a Thursday gets taken over by a vast amount of people selling old stuff or 'antiques' as they like to call them. It's on every week and since it's just up the road I thought I'd go for a sniff about. I love walking around the city especially if the sun is out, and since I'm trying not to rush about as much as I used to I'm really trying to make an effort and notice my surrounding's a bit more rather than just looking down at the pavement. When wandering around the city, you should always look up as you might find an interesting plaque, or a statue, or fancy doorway or just a nice view. The city in the sunshine really is a lovely place. Unfortunately, the market was a complete waste of time and so over priced that I wondered if anyone really wanted to sell anything at all. For me not to find anything to bring home is extremely rare but that just goes to show how bad it was. God knows how much the stall holders have to pay for their pitch, but most of them really shouldn't have bothered. And the time it must take to unpack all their antiques / crap and then pack them up at the end of the day. What a hassle. As if it wasn't bad enough that the market was crap, whilst mooching around I bumped into someone I had not seen for a very long time and who's presence on one of the stalls' gave me the cold sweats of humiliation.

About 10 years ago, I went on the worst date of my life in a pub in Islington. It was so embarrassing that I actually stopped going anywhere near the N1 postcode for months in case I bumped into my suitor, which was most inconvenient since both my hairdresser and doctor were based in Islington. The lucky fellow and  object of my desires was a young chap who had a stall in the Antiques Market that appeared every Saturday just off the Essex Road. I used to go there (a lot) with my ex boyfriend before we split up when he went off to travel Australia. I think the ex thought I was doing some serious research in training for the Antiques Roadshow but really it was so I could swoon over The Watch Man (we bought a watch from him one day hence the nickname). So when the ex had left for his travels I plucked up the courage to get to know The Watch Man better. I remember being incredibly nervous but plucked up courage one Saturday to go and peruse his wares and strike up a conversation. I found out his name was Lucien (swoon) and he made violins for a living (how romantic). This could of course been a complete ruse but even if he was called Barry and laid tarmac for a living my younger self wouldn't have cared one bit. Then the miracle of miracles occurred. He asked if I wanted to go for a drink! I'm sure I was very uncool and said yes immediately so the date was set for the following Sunday afternoon at a pub in Islington.

So, the big day came but I realised pretty early on that this wasn't going to be the romance of the century. I think the problem was that my crush was so huge that it wasn't possible for him to live up to my high expectations. (I'd been silently admiring him for months and now here I was, having a cider with him!). Also, I didn't like the way he kept talking about his ex-girlfriend . . . So, we sat in the pub for a few hours, me getting steadily more drunk, and when it came to go home he walked me to the bus stop. And just before the bus arrived the following conversation took place, which was so toe curling that it is unfortunately etched on my brain forever;

Me: You can kiss me now if you like.
Him: Pardon?
Me: can kiss me now. If you want...? Before the bus comes.
Him: (silence).
Me: Aren't you going to kiss me?
Him: (snort)  I don't think so! EXIT BUS STOP RIGHT.


Needless to say, there were no more dates after that. And I never went to the Antiques Market again.

Then today, as I spied the only decent item in the whole market and asked the stall holder how much it cost, my life reversed to that mortifying moment in the bus stop 10 years ago. As the stall holder looked up from his paper to answer me, everything went into slow motion with the realisation that it was him, The Watch Man. Shit. I wanted to run off but hoped he wouldn't recognise me. He definitely recognised me. He stuttered when he gave me the price (£85 for an old optical chart. Rip off) and just stared at me. And I was temporarily frozen to the spot with a cold and clammy feeling. Staring back. Awkward. Eventually I shuffled off and have decided that even though N1 may be a safe postcode, EC1 definitely isn't. Not on a Thursday anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Well I have to say that reading this piece signed me as a new blog reader for life, I woke up in Liz's living room (I am Frenchie and I am Liz's guest - just in case Chris comes across this comment hahaha) and had a read at the Watch man (which became a reference since), light, funny and full of life .... loved it! loved it! loved it!