Streets Ahead is the column from London Walks' Pen and Daily Constitutional Special Correspondent David Tucker…
A THREE-WAY (CONVERSATION)
This sound familiar? Especially the first 19 words.
"I've not come here to get money; not I; I've come here merely for the good of the public, and to let you see how you've been imposed upon by a parcel of pompous shopkeepers, who are not content with less than 100 per cent for rubbish. They got up a petition – which I haven't time to read to you just now – offering me a large sum of money to keep away from here. But no, I had too much friendship for you to consent, and here I am. . . . I've in this cart a cargo of useful and cheap goods; can supply you with anything, from a needle to an anchor. Nobody can sell as cheap as me, seeing that I gets all my goods upon credit, and never means to pay for them. Now then, what shall we begin with? Here's a beautiful guard-chain."
It is of course from London Labour and the London Poor, Henry Mayhew’s mid-19th century expedition deep into the world of the Victorian underclass.
Still not got it?
Hint: he’s not there to “get money.” But – who woulda thought it? – turns out he’s got wares to “sell.” They’re “cheap” (I’ll bet they are). But – oh dear – money’s going to be changing hands.
But, but, but… If he’s not there “to get money” – if he’s there “merely for the good of the public” – well, he must be giving the stuff away.
It must be “free.” Isn’t that what “not here to get money” means?
On a completely unrelated note, I’ve been thinking about suckers lately.
What’s their birth rate now? Is it still one every minute?
Answers on a postcard please.
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