Haggling never stopped on the market, it was part of the atmosphere. We still do it now, it’s something that doesn’t leave you – Roger got forty quid knocked off his hotel bill last week! My partner Vonne gets very embarrassed when I haggle, “Don’t Pete, don’t.” I say, “I’ve got to!” She says, “You’re not that short, are you?” I’m not, but it’s the principle. It’s against my religion to pay full price – I’ve got to get a little bit chivvied off.
On the Wholesale Market, haggling was the done thing. You didn’t always get what you asked for. In fact, on my stall you very rarely got what you asked for, but in turn I used to do it to my suppliers and try to get a better deal. When I was first married we didn’t have a lot of money between us, so I actually bid for our marital bed – my wife walked out the shop!
My mum was from the Caribbean where markets are a really big deal. She was so skilled at bargaining and great at selling a sob story, “Oh, I’ve got so many kids!” or, “We bought from you last week so you should be accommodating.”
There was plenty of haggling on the market. They used to say, “Come on, I’ll give you sixpence for that.” “Sixpence? No, that’s too much.” “What do you think it’s worth then?” “Threepence.” “Oh go on then, piss off!” That’s how they used to talk to each other! I wasn’t too great at haggling myself, but you could never be offended by what they were saying. Some of the things the fruit and vegetable bloke used to come out with – “Come on, it’s all fresh, I’ve only had it a month!”
Haggling on the market became more popular when the Asian people came in – I don’t think it was a thing people did before then, but we soon got braver. Often I used to tell them I was in the trade and say, “Can I have a trade discount?” I wasn’t, but it still worked! It was part of my makeup – I’d think, “Can I get that a little bit cheaper?” Deep down, I believed it was unfair that only people who were in the trade got that discount, because the people who really couldn’t afford it had to pay top price if it wasn’t in them to tell porky pies like I did!