Poetry & Music -
2nd May 2017
with Mike Parsons David Kessel, Abe Gibson,
and Roger Hoddle.
floor spots come early...
Powis Road (off Bruce Road) E3 3HJ see map
Bow Road or Bromley by Bow Tube/Bow Church DLR
3-Bees Cafe 4 - 8: bring a bottle/cans
Austerity Door Policy - give what you can afford
Recessions are great. I love recessions. Yes there is misery, businesses going bust, unemployment rising. For people like me though recessions are a god send, they are a gold mine. You see I am a pawnbroker, Joe Cohen owner of a junk shop and lots of people hate me but in a recession I am a necessary evil. A useful bolt hole. An escape for people to pawn their wares and get some money. We all love money, some mullah, cash. Pawnbrokers do well in a recession. True I am not a millionaire, I get by, pay my bills. I am not poor just like the rest I am scraping a living.
How did I get into this game? It’s a long story. I have never had much ambition or what you would call a vocation. I seemed to have drifted from odd job to odd job. I’ve been a bar tender, courier, security guard, mechanic, painter and decorator. A sort of jack of all trades and master of none. I’ve been an alcoholic, a drug addict, a drug pusher. Now I am clean, living on the drug called life.
Not religious, I’ve tried not very hard. Maybe that is what is missing from my life? I always fancied being a priest, weddings, funerals always on hand to say a few words from the good book. Seems like an easy living, of course you won’t get rich. Still as they say it is easier for a camel to go through a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
I thought of working in the city. Not far from where I live. I am good with numbers, figures, scams and deals. After all it is a sham, a casino. There are people with lots of front and nothing much else. They are making money with other people’s money. Sounds easy. Where is the risk? We don’t take much notice of the money game, high finance, banks.
My Dad was big in the junk game. Not a major player but he had this shop. Now my shop. He sold old clothes, furniture, musical instruments any sort of bric a bac. As he got older his health went from bad to worse. Now he is ill, I blame the fags, he was always smoking sometimes a cigar, if he had won on the horses or had got some good junk. Not many cigar days in the past. I don’t smoke now, I did for a short while but never got addicted.
Still see Dad, he lives on his own in Bow. He gives me advice about the junk game and remembers the old days. I suppose as you get older you talk about the past, your memories as if holding onto some part of your life that was good. I try and not to talk of the past, there is not much good to say better to look forward to the future.
Lately I’ve been depressed and down. It is like I’ve given up on life. This is a new phase for me. I was always the optimist, well maybe a cheerful pessimist. There was always hope no matter how small. Things will get better. People are really deep down, good people. Now I feel there is no hope. No progress, okay there will be a progress of sorts but no nirvana, redemption or exciting end. It is tough but that is the way it is.
No socialist utopia, no free market heaven, definitely no heaven. You live, you die and become fertiliser. Life what does it mean? It means nothing. We are fragments, grains of sand on a beach, in a country, a continent, a world which in itself is tiny in the ever expanding universe.
Purpose, there must be a purpose, meaning. Does there? Sometimes people let their whole lives get messed about looking for a meaning. What a waste of time and resources. Think of all the time that could have been spent on other things.
I am the Junk Man. Life is like junk, it comes and goes. An object that was key or brilliant enters the junk world. I would pass it on to whoever for some small cash. It gets discarded, misplaced or lost. Maybe passed onto another junk shop or maybe the rubbish bin. Or I keep the object for some time and it gets redeemed by its owner. Of course, I get some cash for my trouble.
Junk it has no purpose, no meaning. It is just junk. We give objects some affection or a place in our hearts. Some sentimental value but we can lose them for cash. I remember down on my luck and money, selling to a record shop some very good music albums. Some meant a lot to me and had kept me happy in troubled times. The record shop owner ripped me off, he paid a measly sum for my records. He probably made a profit selling them on at an inflated price. Depressing and sad. Just live with it. Live your life. You have only got one.
We are like passive, an audience watching a film. Interested maybe intrigued but we are not part of the movie. In a recession, the movie gets nasty. We get interested, very interested. The media goes into overdrive. Who are these faceless bankers? How did they fuck it up? Where is all our money going? Why are we bailing out the bankers? Isn’t this where it all started?
Yeah I could have been good, working in the city. Now some of them come to me, pawning their stuff. Funny that. Ironic. As I said my Dad was big in the junk game. He was not major player but he had this junk. He sold old clothes, furniture, musical instruments any sort of bric a brac. I could have sold it all made some money but what would I do with it? Plus I quite liked the junk game.
You meet people, hear their stories. The whole gamut of humanity passes into your hands. There is a structure to your life. You become useful. You hear all sorts of stories, everything. I became a talisman of sorts. Someone to turn to when things get scarey or down. I have helped a lot of people on their last legs with a loan here and there. Of course I make a little money not much but enough to survive. The shop is in Vallance Road off Whitechapel Road. It is not up market des res but it is home. The Krays lived in the street once upon a time. In E1 there is lot of turnover, lots of junk. People on the make and take. Pawning what they can to get some money, to keep their heads above water.
The junk shop now and in my Dad’s time always seemed to be on the periphery of crime. A lot of contraband was fenced. I do not like criminals but it seemed part of the job to work with criminal elements. The trick was not to get immersed in crime.
Yes I like the junk game. What is junk to you maybe precious to me. I oil the wheels and move the junk around.
Junk is a funny word. People think it is sub standard, crap, rubbish not useful. However, this is way off the mark. Most things can become junk and although they may have lost their use for the person concerned. This junk could be useful for someone else. A lot of junk passes through my hands. I try to make a bob or two. I am never greedy otherwise stuff does not circulate. I hate static or stagnant moments. I am always on the go moving junk from A to B and hopefully everyone is happy.
I would not class myself as a connoisseur or supreme but I have gathered an interest in antiques. My particular field is Art Deco 1920s area. They were Angular, geometric models, Bakelite, exotic woods. I usually look for high quality. The elegant detailed figures such as the bathing girl, I like the boldly coloured geometric patterns of Clarice Cliff or classical figures of Jean Mayodon. .
Of course I am lucky if any Art Deco comes my way. So many people now think they are well versed in the antique trade. So everyone is on the look out for that piece that will bring them millions. All searching their lofts, attics, basements for pictures, vases anything antique.
I have acquired the usual tools for antique work; magnifying glass, torch, tape measure, note book, camera and duster. I go the auctions and see if anything crops up. Chat to lots of dealers but they treat me with disdain as I am in the junk game. I think they believe being with me infects them. So the dealers keep matters close to their chest. I check up obituaries to see if anyone is selling off their stuff. Morbid you can pick up some useful stuff from the dead.
I was situated in the East End, the demography counts against you. Hardly anyone is rich so there are few pickings. Go to Notting Hill, West London charity shops if you want to pick up some good vintage stuff. My shop is located in Vallance Road as I said the Krays used to live there not that I know much about Ronnie or Reggie. I would be paying them protection money no doubt if they were alive now. However, no one seems interested in a junk shop these days.
That is the way I like I. I do not poke my nose into other people’s business and I don’t want them getting involved in my life. I know I am not over friendly, I can be. I did have a relationship some years ago but me and women do not seem a good mix. Of course I miss the company and sex but maybe the junk game is not a woman’s area?