By CleanSteve

Neil’s market in The Shambles

I set up my pitch last night, as we usually do, because we can unload from outside the door in The Shambles, (the ancient alley leading off the High Street, which has housed the market for centuries) which isn’t possible on the actual market days. Unfortunately it coincided last night with a torrential downpour, so it was a bit damp.

I arrived a little late today because of unusual traffic problems near the town centre, but the hoped for hordes of customers hadn’t materialised, so all was well. A slow start was followed by a generally busy day with many of the regular locals coming to market again for the first time this year.

One of my fellow irregular stall holders is Neil, who some people regard as the seller of wonderful  pens, old and new, which attracts young and old to the delights of a nib and even a quill, ink and paper. On other days his offerings are more like these – camera related equipment, mostly from pre-digital eras.  We often have adjacent stalls and in quiet times we share anecdotes and our experiences. I’ve learnt that Neil joined a photo lab as a 15 year old apprentice. Working under various professional laboratory technicians he learnt to develop film and print for a variety of general usages, mostly for business clients. He left before too long having fallen out with a rather narrow minded boss and eventually became a jobbing professional photographer for newspapers and private weddings.

His training taught him a lot that he values especially technical aspects of photographic equipment, and his inquiring mind has never let up. He followed developments in equipment and loves playing with any of it that comes his way. He now buys and sells it.

Today I was intrigued by the camera in the foreground, particularly by its name  – ‘Cosmic Symbol’. On his post-it note beside it he has added Cosmic Symbol’. Best starter / Beginner / enthusiasts 35mm camera.  £15’.

He has several other Russian cameras and lenses, as well as the binoculars. Another object for sale is a ribbon and medal which is labelled ‘Medal issued by Mussolina to encourage Fascist families to have more children!’  But he also was offering a couple of Pentax cameras, labelled ‘Little and large Pentax cameras’.

He often suggests that I come and see his finds and play with them, as they nearly all are in full working order. A lot of them are beyond my knowledge not having had such a good technical education nor exposure to these intricate devices, but I like exploring them all the same. I’m pleased to say he got a good offer for the large Pentax.

On the stall were two books, a history of The Beatles in pictures and words, as well as a very large book of Ansell Adams landscape images, 'Landscapes of the American West', mostly filmed in 1941, which his children had given to him at various times. They weren’t for sale, just for our amusement, or possibly our education.

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