I bought a big towel bale once. It was so cheap I was suspicious and thought, “I’m going to get this home, there’s going to be gigantic holes in the middle and I’m going to really regret this.” But it was very rare that you’d buy anything that was flawed – that towel bale was amazing and lasted me forever. Soap, detergent, fabric softener, it had a foreign name on, you couldn’t read what it contained, but it didn’t matter, you took the lid off, sniffed it, “This smells nice and it’s very cheap!” And it did the job. You could get a polythene bag at the end with between ten and twenty bars of soap for about a pound. Some were chipped, misshaped or stamped, but it didn’t matter. We were never without really. If there wasn’t the market, you’d have to really be pinching the pennies and have to decide what you can do without, what the children can and can’t have. There were cheap wallpaper stalls too – I always used to be decorating. It was best to stick to a feature wall and have a look. You did make a few mistakes, but a couple of strategically placed pictures and a plant in a jardinière usually covered them up!
In late October, it were blue buttons time – you know, the wild mushrooms? I remember a group of five blokes we used to call the Quality Street Gang. They used to drive as far as sixty or seventy miles away to go blue buttoning. They were foraging for the mushrooms when all of a sudden one of the blokes, Bumper, held his hand to his chest and collapsed. Big Walter Pike and the others managed to get him into the car, but it was too late – he’d died of a heart attack. Walter took some of those Blueys up to the market to sell. One woman came up and when he told her how much they were she said, “I’m not paying that – it’s too much!” Walter said, “A man’s died for these – he died for you to get these Blue Buttons!”