Friday, 18 August 2006

Old Iron

When we lived in Myddleton Square in the 70s a rag and bone man regularly visited, driving his horse and cart slowly around the streets ringing a big hand held bell, shouting "iron, any old iron" incomprehensibly. The cart was wooden with low sides. He was ancient with a flat cap.

Sitting here watching the clouds form and the rain spatter the sound of a ringing bell came into my consciousness and slowly along the road came a van with a brassy blond woman leaning out the passenger side ringing the old bell, and a couple of fridges already piled on the back. A flashback moment. Haven't heard the rag and bone bell for years.

Right back to all the trades we knew around the neighbourhood, proper butchers with sawdust floor and white coat, grocer (fatty lloyd) with his counter and stripy apron, window cleaner on a bicycle carrying his ladder over his shoulder - a ladder with a join at the top with some kind of leather coating so it could be leaned on window joists (he once broke a pane in one of our windows when the ladder slipped while he was standing on it on a 1st floor balcony), beer delivery done with barrels on the back of a whitbread cart drawn by two huge cart horses, snorting and shaking their manes (deliveries to Filthy McNasty's, although I'm not sure whether it was called that way back then). We used to shop for vegetables in Chapel Street Market (didn't have clothes, cds or video stalls then) and pop into the very exotic (at the time) italian deli on the way home - smelled of sausage and strong cheese, salamis hanging around the ceiling.

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