The travelling man’s bags were filled to overflowing, and although our mothers turned their noses up, we children recognised the smell of adventure. The cheap baubles were gems from Persia where the king was called the Shah and women wore silk and smoked cigarettes with filters, like you saw on the silver screen. One of the hats was from Mr Holmes’ London, with more than a whiff of danger and opium, and the spurs were worn by whooping cowboys chasing after Indians.




That man grinned a grin as bold as his brass earring and beguiled, yes he did, knowing somehow the unspoken desires of everyone who pretended to ignore him. The women stood back, arms folded under their breasts and lips pursed as they eyed the gaudy jewels and lace collars, wondering if they could still get away with it. The men hummed and hawed and scratched the backs of their necks as if to say they had no interest, while their eyes darted between hand forged wrenches and awls and the small stack of photographs they knew was wrapped in that little red canvas bag.

There were chipped Russian dolls and medicine bottles and animal bones – who would buy bones? we whispered feverishly. It must be black magic. Instruments nobody could play and old furs nobody could afford, except maybe that woman none of us were allowed to talk to who lived over the café.

And the books with faded hard covers; oh, inside those books was every thing and every place all at once, and it was all we could do to wait to grow up so that we, too, could be heroes. And at the end of it all, after every last coin of hidden pocket or pin-money was spent, we watched what remained being wrapped gently in paper or cloth and then put back into the bags; and we knew that when they arrived at the next town the contents would settle on the sheet of canvas again like flakes in a snow-globe, beautiful and foreign and just out of reach.














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9 Responses to Peddler

  1. Paula says:

    I would have bought everything. How wonderfully descriptive, felt like i was right there beside you as a child!

  2. Diane Flaherty Martin says:

    Great blog today! I still enjoy the thrill of the hunt…at a flea market, antique shop or thrift shop! Grew up doing that with my mom, more out of necessity as I was one of 8 kids. Diane

  3. Róisín says:

    What?? Not eve the gold-rimmed teacup and matching saucer?? Was it a bomb??

  4. Marcus says:


  5. Just catching up on your posts. I love this its fabulous, great writing, great photos, wow lady, keep it up.

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