A Visit To Billingsgate Fish Market With Andrew & Fiona Levinson Plus Pen Friend Valerie, 20 August 1977

Flying Fish In Old Billingsgate

I was reminded of this 1977 impromptu summer holidays outing at a recent (November 2017) gathering of the old school clan – click here or the link below:

Rock ‘N’ Rajasthan Evening, Mostly Alleyn’s Alumni, 14 November 2017

Not only did both Andrew and Fiona Levinson come up in the conversation that evening, but I realised, when the 1977 Billingsgate visit popped into my head, that the venue, The Rajasthan Restaurant, is just across the road from the old Billingsgate Fish Market.  Weirdorama.

Here is the relevant page of my diary. Not much going on at that stage of the summer…

..apart from England winning the Ashes! Happy days.

This was the first year I didn’t go away with my parents during the summer school holidays since I was a toddler. I don’t think dad had the money for a holiday that year – business was not good.

Still, it seems that, on the Sunday before, I:

won 1p at kalooky [sic] all OK

Why Jewish grandmothers liked to play Kalooki – Jamaican Rummy is a mystery to me.  I think it explained to some extent in Howard Jacobson’s book Kalooki Nights, which I commend to you.

That 1p will have contributed handsomely towards my bus fares and stuff.

On the Friday, the diary notes that I:

went out with Andrew, Fiona and Valerie (pen friend from France). No 23 in evening.

No 23 was my grandmother (of kalooki fame)’s flat. There was a three line whip for the family to gather and no kalooki on a Friday night. Don’t be ridiculous. On the sabbath? No, no, no. Kalooki was a Sunday thing.

What Andrew, Fiona, Valerie and I did on that Friday is lost in the bowels of my mind, so unless one of the others reads this and knows (please chime in if you do) the nature of the Friday activity will be lost for ever in the mists of time.

The Saturday diary entry is more explicit:

went to Billingsgate first thing with Andrew, Fiona and Valerie.

I do recall making a very early start of it and venturing out to Billingsgate with my camera in hand.

Old Billingsgate, dapper head gear
Left to right: two fishmongers, Andrew, Fiona, Valerie
Andrew pondering the price of fish as we leave Billingsgate

Who would have thought back then that I would end up writing a book on commerce, The Price Of Fish, using a multitude of fishy examples, some of which were spawned all the way back then at Billingsgate – click here or below:

But I digress…

…let us return to the 20 August outing. We clearly did a little more sightseeing before we went home – click the link below for the whole photo roll, which is available for all to see on Flickr – click here or below:


As a footnote, I’d like to make it clear that our behaviour with Fiona’s pen friend from France was exemplary, showing her the sights, sounds and smells of Old London Town and generally being hospitable.

I feel the need to make this “good behaviour” point explicit, because some of our fellow Alleyn’s alumni took a somewhat different attitude to French pen pals. Messrs Wellbrook and Grant, for example, hang your heads in shame as I link any Facebook-enabled readers to David Wellbrook’s confession piece on the matter of Chris Grant’s French pen friend in the summer of 1976 – click here for Facebook or below for the Ogblog imprint: 

Guest Piece by David Wellbrook: The Long Hot Summer Of ’76 – Recollections Of A 14-Year-Old With Special Appearance By A Lunatic Frenchman, c1 July 1976

Tish tish.

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