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Spitalfields Antiques Market 10

May 27, 2010
by the gentle author

This is the charming Ellemay Simmons from Sutton, who becomes more interesting the more you speak with her. “My roof is choca’ with mannequins,” Ellemay admitted after we had been chatting for five minutes, bringing out her favourite piece from beneath the stall – where she kept it secreted from customers against the unfortunate possibility that anyone should buy it – revealing a fine mustachioed nineteen twenties marionette head she discovered in a Paris flea market. “I like bizarre heads,” Ellemay confided by way of explanation, showing me a Punch & Judy head by way of distraction, while she stowed the cherished head safely in its bag again. Only here off & on, Ellemay likes to keep her collection to herself.

This is Alan & Marion Young, pictured on Alan’s seventieth birthday. “I love people,” explained Alan who has been a dealer for over thirty years, “You meet so many people from every walk of life – from those who can only afford a small thing for fifty pence to those who will buy something for two thousand pounds. I’m retired but I still do it because I love it.” In passing, Alan mentioned that in 2005, he & Marion had saved enough to redecorate their home and shop in Deptford, but when the tsunami hit Sri Lanka they decided to use the money to fly to Colombo, hire vans, buy water and drive to the Tamil country to distribute it to sixty-five thousand people personally. I do hope someone made Alan a cake for his seventieth birthday.

This is Tom who works for Heather, a specialist in sixties and seventies clothing. “She loves her clothes, she’s lucky, she can wear anything and look good,” Tom explained, conjuring a sketch of the fabulously stylish Heather. “We’ve had Twiggy here, she’s let go of her sixties’ clothes but now she’s buying again, and Boy George used to buy things from us for his shows.” he revealed in a matter of fact tone, indicative of his professional detachment from the glamorous world he presides over, on behalf of Heather. I asked Tom if it was a problem not having a changing room, but he dismissed this notion robustly, “I’ve had ladies standing in just their knickers, they don’t care.” he declared.

Photographs copyright © Jeremy Freedman

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