Market place: Brick Lane
Saturday 05 March 1994
Every Sunday this huge East End jamboree takes over acres of urban wasteland. The market is best around its fraying edges where all manner of goods can be found: early Penguins, an old piano, a bottle of 1981 Royal Wedding ale. More bizarre still is the junk sold by semi- vagrants along the Bethnal Green Road: egg whisks and spectacle frames; shirt buttons, two fishing reels and a Harry Belafonte record.
The Bacon Street spivs are old now. They belong to an era when Arthur Daley was Flash Harry. But still they huddle together with fag ash and trilbies, proffering gold rings and watches: hot as the Costa del Sol.
There has been a political edge to the market since the 18th century, when trading started half a mile from the City of London to escape taxes. The extreme right wing was recently dissuaded from selling pamphlets in this Bangladeshi district. The only political collections being taken the other Sunday were by a young man playing a didgeridoo.
Shopping and entertainment are one and the same. A frozen-food seller is instructing his audience: 'Today we've got chicken Kiev and chicken cordon bleu, but we'll call them Kevin and Gordon in case you can't get your mouth round the fancy French words.'
Brick Lane devotees arrive before 6am and by 10am they are greedily spooning down jellied eels at the whelk stall on Slater Street. By 2.30pm the crowds have dispersed into pubs or curry houses. A few would-be traders remain, cramming discarded clothing and broken hairdryers into shopping baskets. They'll be back to sell them next week.
Brick Lane, London E1, Sun 6am-1pm
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut