Paddy’s Market (extract from Torn Edges, painting by Frank Marden)

….Des pottered around the flat, tidying up and getting into some casual clothes. He left at 1.45 making sure he had a handful of change for the usual moochers at the end of the bridge who always treated him like a long lost friend at this time of day. He walked along the Clydeside to Bridgegate cutting through the top end of an area known as ‘Paddy’s Market’.

If you were a romantic traveller you might call the place a flea market. In fact it was very much at the lower end of the flea market business, if such a concept exists outside the paddysthird world. A place where midden bins looked as if they had been looted and emptied on to the pavement and scattered in a semi circle around the dishevelled market hawkers. It attracted the usual collection of low lifers, drug dealers, thieves, shop lifters and assorted unsuccessful criminal riff raff of the underworld. It was also held right underneath the back windows of one of Scotland’s major courthouses, Glasgow High Court.

Des walked on for fifty yards to Alice’s Restaurant. It was the only restaurant in Western Europe, as far as he knew, that had only two items on the menu, Ribs and Cabbage with potatoes or Ribs and Cabbage without potatoes. Hastings and Munro had just sat down as he arrived. A thin faced, shapeless waitress with washed out blonde hair approached, small notebook and a chewed bookies pencil at the ready. After a quick agreement round the table, Hastings ordered.

“Two with potatoes and one without”

“Mulk?” snapped the waitress.

“Yes, milk all round will do fine”

She put her notebook on the table and ponderously wrote 2+ and then 1- and finally 3mks. Seconds later she was back with a mixed collection of cutlery which she tossed casually on the table. The restaurant was busy, mostly by genuine workers and some hawkers from the market. It had yet to attract the usual bunch of trendies and left wing politicos from the nearby gentrified Merchant City. The trouble was that Alice’s wasn’t quite ‘ethnic’ enough to attract the truly trendy and just a wee bit too working class to attract the left wing politicos. Another disadvantage to the above posers, who liked to linger and chatter over lunch, was the speed at which the food was delivered – hardly surprising considering the limitations of the menu. However, even more damning was the fact that they didn’t do iced tea, green tea, minted tea, cappuccino, espresso neither singolo, doppio nor macchiato, café carajillo, coffee latte or anything else that encouraged the non-eater to linger about, cluttering up the place and taking up valuable seats….

 TORN EDGES   (Page 79, second Edition)

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