What can £7 get you in London? Let’s see. A plate of roast duck rice. Too few tube rides into town. And, oh yes, possibly a slap and a kill, somewhere at the end of Portobello Road.
A slap and a kill, you say?
Yes sir, yes sir, all for £7.
Puzzled? I thought you might be. Allow me to explain.
Yesterday afternoon, I had my eyes on a beautiful wood-handled silver butter knife back at one of the major antique dealers along Portobello Road, and was quoted £35 for it. I wasn’t about to splurge that kind of money on a knife (even if it’s made of silver, yes I’m shallow and I only require vintage-looking stuff – great if they are precious antiques but I’m not bothered if they aren’t). We moved on to some sort of a cul-de-sac of the market a the end of Portobello Road, which was infinitely less popular and where cheaper goods await. M remarked that I might be able to find something there, and indeed, the very same knife was going for £15 at one of the stalls.
We hovered round the stall for a bit, waiting for the owner to show up and were about to leave when the owner of the neighbouring stall sauntered up to us, asking if we needed help. Let’s call him X, who has the cutest watered down Scottish accent and who clearly took a fancy to M….
M: Do you own this stall?
X (dramatically opening his eyes and leaning forward): Well, I could be!
M: How much for this knife?
X (checks the handle and blade with an eyepiece): £15. It’s made of silver.
M (skeptical): Okay, let’s do it for 50p.
X (mock horror, complete with the tiniest flicker of the hand to mimic controlled spanking): I’ll ssshhlah-p you! No, I can’t do that. What do you want to use it for?
X: (Before we could answer…and in his most sinister voice and with a cocked eyebrow): To cut your wrist? (he draws the knife on his wrist like he was pulling a long note with the fiddle on the violin)
M and me (stunned AND stumped): …
X (recognising the semi-horror on our faces and he continues, matter-of-factly): Okay, it’s a butter knife.
[Writer’s note: Imagine a super quick running dialogue now, like Federer and Nadal playing tennis. Think back and forth banter that’s impossible to stop.]
M (recovers): Well, I could use it to file my nails.
X: Yes exactly (proceeds to pretend to file his nails with the knife). Okay, I’ll give it to you for £10.
M: No, £5 and we’ll take it.
X (mock horror and speaking to his friend this time): If he weren’t so pretty, I’ll ssshhlah-p him! (Turning to us and in a whisper): No, give me something more than £5 and I’ll sell it to you.
M (reaches into pocket and pulls out another £2): Here, this is all I have.
X (smooth as baby’s bottom, and raising his voice so other stall owners could hear): Okay, if you give me £7, I’ll sell it to you.
M (playing along): Okay, I’ve got £7. There.
And so, for a fraction of the price I was first quoted at one of the main dealers, I walked away with the exact knife I wanted, witnessed a most delightfully-engaging banter with my mouth wide open, and stifled plenty of giggles. We think that X is just going to take the £7 and not tell his friend that something was sold from the stall. Beats me, but I don’t really care what happens after, for it was a joy for me to watch. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a mock Scottish accent, air-spanking and teasing M about how X was going to ‘ssshhlah-p him’. M spent an unhealthy amount of time thinking, ‘Damn, I thought I only had a few pence in my pocket, not £2!!‘. Oh well, £7 for a Slap and ‘Kill’, it’s alright!
[Another writer’s note, just because: We also bagged a whole carton of incredibly sweet and plump cherries for only £5, a dozen of flat peaches for only £4 and smacked our lips to the tune of burger and double-cooked fries from Bangers Bros., and mango & passionfruit froyo from Bee Me. Very wonderful day out indeed.]