I coax my friend to come with me on my regular Saturday shop at the Camberwell Farmers’ Market.
“Look, it’s not the Herne Hill market, but where it lacks in quantity, it excels in quality and price!”
Halfway into the Green, before we reach the market stands, we’re approached by a lady in red with a giant set of lips on her head. She offers us a kiss. We refuse politely. She saunters away.
The man attending a coffee stand says he, too, was offered a kiss and also refused. He sounds French, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
“Maybe it is a performance art or something like this,” he shrugs. We discuss the difference between the people who offer free hugs and this lady offering kisses. I may accept a hug, but find the idea of being kissed by a stranger a bit alarming and questionably hygienic.
Friend eyes Coffee Man’s baked goods and tells him before we move on, “You know, you could charge a lot more if you sold these at the Herne Hill market.”
Next is the buffalo man’s stand. I warn Friend of his tendency to proselytise on the benefits of buffalo. He is passionate and means well, I know. And his buffalo yoghurt is very creamy, Friend agrees.
Near Buffalo Man’s stand we are approached by a Robot.
He’s trying to communicate with us, waving his silver arms, but it’s windy and hard to understand him through his helmet. I gather that something is “landing” soon, but can’t sort out what. We listen politely. He wants us to know that we, too, can be robots, as he has collected all of his robot parts from Camberwell stores.
After delivering his message, he wanders off, slowly, as if gravity is different for him. Perhaps he is a Spaceman, and not a Robot.
We investigate a new chutney stand. The lady tells us she is trying to open a new café in Camberwell via kickstarter.com called The Pigeon Hole. Friend tries the carrot and chilli chutney.
“You know, jars this size are going for £6 at Herne Hill market…have you considered…”
I drag Friend away. “Will you cut that out? We need this chutney! Herne Hill has plenty of chutney!”
The Lips Lady approaches us again on our way out of the Green, offering us not only a kiss but a cardboard lolly as well. We refuse politely.
“So, what did you think?” I ask Friend.
“Not bad,” she says.
Herne Hill has more to offer in terms of food selection, we agree. But are there spacemen? Free kisses?
“No,” Friend says. “There are no spacemen. We don’t have that sort of thing in Herne Hill.”
“Well,” I say, just a bit smugly, “it’s what I’ve come to expect from Camberwell.”
Camberwell Market Treasures: