30 | May | 14

Richard Johnson

Stop Me And Buy One

I used to work on a fruit and veg stall. I perfected my cry — “new potaters, easy scrapers, all the way from En-ger-land.” It made the housewives of Chalfont St Peter smile, and (more importantly) buy my new potatoes. Sorry — new potaters. These days our street markets are quiet. Too quiet. Our costermonger cries are dying out. So I was delighted to hear about an exhibition reviving old street hawking sounds — even if you need to get to Taiwan to hear them in person. Visitors can see the various vending carts and assorted merchandise, bamboo baskets, a noodle stand on wheels, as well as a push-cart for selling grass jelly tea. “If street vendors are artists in their work, then vending stalls are also works of art. They provide services and sell goods to meet people’s everyday needs, and help people recall personal stories and nostalgic feelings,” said one of the organisers. Nice curating. But this stuff doesn’t belong in a museum — and that’s what happens when you take street food off the streets altogether. Have a look at what’s going on in Singapore, and the Far East. Let’s keep our street culture alive.