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BBC World Service

Crisis means less for traders and shoppers

Justin Rowlatt Nov 2, 2011
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BBC World Service

Crisis means less for traders and shoppers

Justin Rowlatt Nov 2, 2011
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COPY

Kai Ryssdal: We started today with flowers.

Justin Rowlatt: We’re going to end with fruit.

Ryssdal: Equally perishable, equally global.

Rowlatt: Think for a minute about where those grapes you might have had today probably came from.

Ryssdal: And, as you found out the other day, Justin, equally vulnerable to the European crisis.


Rowlatt: So I’ve come down to what used to be one of London’s busiest markets — to Portobello Road — to find out how people here feel about their future. Now, this place on the weekends is absolutely heaving. But during the week, it is a pale shadow of its weekend self.

Market trading is in fruit seller Peter Cain’s blood. But at the moment, he’s struggling.

Peter Cain: My family’s been here three, four generations, like a lot of other store owners down here. The supermarkets, you know, they killed the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker — they’ve done them all.

Rowlatt: But you’ve got more problems, haven’t you? Because you import a lot of this stuff from Europe. Presumably the prices of fruit from Europe have gone up because of the exchange rate?

Cain: Absolutely.

Rowlatt: So you’ve got some oranges there from Spain. How’s the price changed on those?

Cain: Well they’ve doubled in price.

Rowlatt: Doubled?

Cain: They doubled. All fruit has doubled in price. All fruit. From South Africa, from Europe, it’s all doubled in price.

Rowlatt: So how is that affecting you personally?

Cain: Personally, well I’m looking for a money lender. That’s how it’s affecting me personally, it’s not good, mate. It’s awful, it’s just awful. Just look.

Rowlatt: I’m looking either way down the street.

Cain: Can you see how many market traders are out today?

Rowlatt: Normally the market would be full. We’ve got, what, three market traders out? And then we’ve got how many customers are out there on the street?

Cain: Four?

Rowlatt: Where do you see this thing out?

Cain: I really don’t think so. No.

Rowlatt: Are you serious or are you just…

Cain: No, I’m serious. I am serious. I mean, I’m the last person to do this, my father, before that my grandfather, before that and all that, all that ago. I’ve got a daughter who works in advertising, I’m sure she don’t want to be standing here in the market, you know.

Rowlatt: Cheers, Peter. Thank you very much.

Walking

Rowlatt: Have you got a moment?

Julian: I do.

Rowlatt: How’s the economy, the changes in the economy, have they affected you?

Julian: Yeah, of course. For starters, it’s hard to get work. So I’m out of work.

Rowlatt: You’re unemployed?

Julian: I’m unemployed.

Rowlatt: Do you think that’s a result of the kind of recession that Britain’s been going through?

Julian: Yeah, definitely, because I work as a gardener. I go basically from contract to contract. And I’ve noticed that there’s less work, so I’m spending sort of more time at home.

Rowlatt: And what about shopping? What about going out and buying things here in the market?

Julian: I’ve noticed in the supermarkets, there’s been a few instances where I’ve got home and I’ve been certain that I’ve forgotten a bag at the supermarket. And all it is is that things are just much more expensive. You’re just getting a lot less for the same amount of money.


Ryssdal: That’s kind of amazing, forgetting that shopping bag thing — it’s like a shopping bag indicator.

Rowlatt: Yeah, a blinding insight there, Kai.

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