It’s a Saturday sometime in 1992. Because you’ve been hard at work all week writing about dinosaurs and using the trundle wheel, you deserve a day off, right? Do you balls. What you shall instead be required to do is accompany your parents on a day out to Wakefield, Goole or similar. This is because they want to look at different kinds of cushion covers (mother) and wires in Tandy (father).
At some point during your excursion, you will be dragged along to the indoor market. This is mostly so your mother can tut at the quality of the meat. An official complaint to the ombusdman (father) yields nothing, as he wants to look at tapes. Therefore, an hour of your Saturday afternoon is taken up with trudging round, not really being able to see any of the stalls, and having to take your parents’ word for it that “there aren’t any toys, they don’t sell them here”.
Now that I’m an adult, I love to visit indoor markets. This is because I am now boring and lame, but also because indoor markets are awesome. The main reason I love indoor markets is you never quite know what you’re going to find in them. Our local one, for example, has three stalls selling hi-vis vests, a Chinese medicine place, and a retro game stall. Also a stall with the following:
– so much porcelain crap that bits of it fall on the floor and smash whenever someone walks past
– three Elvis t-shirts
– puzzle books with the free pens missing
I also found five Garfield annuals on that stall, so I am not complaining.
Generally though, the indoor market will follow a set pattern, and there are some stalls that are found in every market ever. If you come across an indoor market with one of these stalls missing, report them to the council, and the whole place will be shut down. That is the law.
The Godfather of all indoor market stalls, and the reason all indoor markets smell like raw meat. If you can fight your way past the old ladies queueing up for some brisket, you will be greeted with “F.S. Fuckingham & Son” and their splendid array of chops, sausages, and pork dripping. The council will always deem it necessary to place the meat stall right next to the stall that sells pasties, because nothing makes you hungry for pasties like “Sheep’s arse 4 for a quid”.
Leave the meat, go down and turn right, and you will arrive at the sewing stall, again filled with old ladies. The serious old ladies congregate by the yards o’ fabric, because they are serious and are making serious things like loose covers. The rookies and the plebs congregate at the other end, by the baskets of buttons, because they just need to sew a button on something. The two factions never mix.
Weigh ‘n’ Save
Thirty yards past the toilets is the legendary weigh ‘n’ save, easily the best retail concept known to man. All wares are set out in huge plastic tubs for easy access/playing with. Dried fruit, nuts that no one wants because they’re unsalted, chocolate raisins and loose washing powder all jostle for position with out of date cereals. The lucky customer is guaranteed to get bits of mystery stuff in with their purchase, thanks to kids messing about with the scoops.
Up near the front is the shiny and tempting beauty stall. This is the place to be if you want any of the following:
– Stolen Rimmel lipsticks in a basket
– ‘Mex Fictor’ eyeliner
– Pots of glitter
– Henna shampoo
– These (I don’t know what they’re called)
If, like me, you were a hideously ugly teenager, you could while away the hours at this stall, imagining that applying some ‘Constance Carroll’ nail varnish would make people fancy you.
Art for divs! I love these things to within an inch of their life. The idea is you colour in the white bits, and it doesn’t matter if you go over the lines because it won’t show. Perfect for people with no artistic talent.
And if you think I’m kidding about no artistic talent:
Anyway, velvet art depicts the hip and happening stuff of the day, like cartoons and any celebrities that are fairly easy do do line drawings of. Also racing cars, without fail. Sometimes they’d come with up to four pens, so Barbie ended up having blue skin, but like that mattered.
Are you tired of shopping and need a rest for a bit? Then shovel yourself over to “Cafe”, because that’s what it’s always called. Run by the same angry couple who do the burger stall at the car boot on a Sunday, “Cafe” is the place to rest your weary bones on one of the three hundred chairs, and order a milky coffee. Don’t bother ordering anything if you’re a kid, because they only do that hideous Crusha milkshake. That stuff’s just milk and neat squash mixed together with a spoon, and it makes people unhappy.
Occasionally, the parents will take pity on the disappointed and Crusha-poisoned child and take them to “World Famous Traditional Sweets”. This is more like it. This is the Willy Wonka’s factory of the indoor market. Your eager and fat eyes gaze round in wonder at dusty cinder toffee in food bags, ‘broken biscuit assortment’ (was there ever a better invention?) and jars of pontefract cakes. If you’re really lucky, they also have a Slush Puppie machine, but of course you’re not lucky because you’re being dragged round the indoor market on a Saturday afternoon instead of being at home with your clackers.
Two stalls up from the sweets, we have the bags. Specifically, leather handbags and kids’ rucksacks. Always doing brisk business, although you do wonder why the same four old ladies seem to need a new handbag every week, especially since all the leather handbags look the same. Because kids can’t be trusted not to snot over everything, the kids’ rucksacks are hanging from the top of the stall where you can’t reach them, so you just have to be content with craning your neck up at Thomas The Tank Engine and Forever Friends schoolbags.
Finally, your dad will want to stop at the music stall before you go home. This is because 300 Shadows albums isn’t enough. Your mum’s not that bothered, because she has one Phil Collins tape and that’ll do her.
You can hear the music stall before you can see it. This is because the man who runs the stall (Ian) has decided to showcase his wares off a shit Alba tape player.
There are some artists you only ever hear on these stalls, most notably Foster and Allen. Have a think. Everyone knows Foster and Allen, despite their songs never being in any charts or in any proper record shops. This is because Foster and Allen are Ian’s favourite band, and Ian is going to play them whether you like it or not. Asking him to play MC Hammer instead is pointless, as he can’t hear you over ‘Paddy McGintey’s Goat’.
You dad will come away empty handed, because he’s not fussed about Foster and Allen, and that’s all Ian seems to sell. Never mind, at least he got a set of jack plugs from Tandy.