Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Master Ridley, an excitable huckster from the slums of Wapping, traversed the fleabitten ways and taverns of the east end with pies and flags and bells and birds.
Master Ridley, with a rose wren in a cage upon his head, would sing his lyrical ballads and ring his bell, his wares around his neck like living necklaces. Some days hummingbirds would lie in dead piles baskets around his waist. Emotions would run high amongst the butchers at Smithfield Market who would shout and swear.
“Effin clear off Ridley, take your finicky fowls and jump in the river”.
But the fishwives of Billingsgate and the flower sellers in Covent Garden smiled
at his approach. Machiavellian tricksters often sounded cynical, but secretly enjoyed the delinquent exploits of Ridley, and the wares he peddled.
As summer days unfolded into Autumn, the centerboards of old serving tables were enlarged for harvest suppers in cobbled squares of tenement blocks. Ridley would offer worldly feminine flim-flam and measured masculine jugs of mead, which he proffered in a brusque, off hand way. This belied his own excitement of the season. For he knew as Autumn turned towards Christmas, his customers, all in awe of nature, would welcome the frosty fir cones, the roasted ducks and the pomegranate ribbons. Never questioning his dramatic musical renderings and goods, they relieved their tensions by embracing Mr. Ridley, ,the seasons, and old London town.
The copyright of this post belongs to Valerie Rule