Pearls & Rough Diamonds
Street traders, or Costermongers have been a feature of London life since the 11th century – and for the best part of 900 of those years they were unlicensed and itinerant – at times hounded by the authorities & bureaucracy. They cried their wares to attract customers with vigour and panache – much to the annoyance of London’s ‘well-to-do’ society – yet they provided an essential service to London’s poor, selling their wares in small quantities around the streets from barrows, then stalls.
They finally evolved into today’s familiar market traders, and their lives are celebrated every year at the Guildhall. This year’s bash happened on Sunday. Every borough has its own King & Queen – mine is clearly also a taxi driver – because every borough has a market.
And as for the pearly buttons – it’s yer actual working-class diamonds, innit?
Thanks to Matt at the brilliant Londonist, the only source I could find today with any pics of the event.