Tales of perfidy

Once upon a time, many, many years ago I was a builder working in east London. Most of the people I worked for were housing association tenants, they were usually skint. I arrived to start a biggish job in Leyton one day. In the garden on the edge of the pavement was a really good looking fridge. It had a note on it. It said “Good Working Order, Free” I said to the woman “is it really working” she said “yeh my new boyfriend bought a better one with him.”

Anyway the next day it was still there. I said has anyone asked about it? “No” she said. “How long has it been there said I”. “ About a week” she said. I said “why not change the note, instead of free ask for £10” “OK” she said and as I was leaving for the day she wrote a new sign. That night someone stole it.


In the 80s I was active in CND*. We once organised a fund raising jumble sale in the Century Youth Club. The Century Youth Club was situated on the Romford Ring Road opposite Mercury House. The Ring Road was a great venue. Incredibly busy with a constant stream of cars and buses. We wrote up several signs for the pavement advertising the Jumble Sale opening for 2 pm. Peering out of the doors at 1.45 we were amazed to see a huge queue forming, mainly old ladies. We duly opened at two and they stormed in overwhelming we socialist, pacifists volunteers, snatching stuff from each other, spilling all the jumble onto the floor and stealing as much as they could. After about 30 minutes most of them had departed like a swarm of passing locusts leaving just a handful of crones picking over the entrails as would a family of vultures. After just 45 minutes the hall was emptied of customers of all persuasions leaving a rather large, untidy, tangled heap of unsold goods.

Undaunted we tidied up, wrote a few new pavement signs “Jumble Sale 4pm” replaced the earlier signs and peered out an hour or so later only to see another long queue forming. It seems Romford had an endless supply of bargain seekers because when we reopened at 4pm we were again overwhelmed by hordes of elderly shop lifters. I often wonder who were the cheats.

We made a few pounds for the cause.

*Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament


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