Working at the market
The night shift
I worked in the Municipal market as a teenager in the 60s. I first worked for Brighton Council at nights as a security guard and also to clear up the rubbish that had been left behind after the day shift had gone at 4 o’clock. I also had to let delivery lorries in at night. There were plenty of rats in the place at night, you could see their red eyes. In the morning I had the job of directing traffic for the fish market. There was always cheap fish at the end of the auctions.
When I left the Council job, I worked for Charly Watts unloading lorries at night with another older bloke that was never there, he was always at home kipping. I didn’t care as I was young and fit and couldn’t be bothered to go round his house and get him. The unloading consisted mostly of 1 cwt sacks of spuds.
Although I had a driving licence, I had only driven cars and motorbikes up till then. When I had finished unloading one lorry, I had to put it out into the parking lot and bring another one in. This gave me loads of driving experience. After I had finished unloading these lorries I started taking liberties and driving them around the parking lot and later on when I got used to driving them, taking them out of the market and doing a tour of Brighton every night. It felt so natural to me to be driving them. These lorries were two eight wheelers and a six wheeler. All of them Commer TS3s which had a really throaty roar, having two-stroke diesel engines.
I did a bit of day driving in the summer going around the fruit farms of east Kent picking up cherries and apples and all the seasonal fruit. One dark night I was a bit late owing to different reasons (one of those days). I had a load of apples on the rear three feet of the flatbed piled up to about eight feet, just roped but not sheeted. I lost the apples going up School Hill in Lewes. There was a real mess all over the road. Good job it was late and there wasn’t much traffic about. A police car came along and I thought I was for it. But they helped me pick them up and put them back into their boxes. I gave the policemen a load of apples for their trouble, sheeted up this time and went on my way. Nobody noticed the bruised apples when I got back.
I was also a porter in the mornings and had to barrow fruit and veg to the customers in the street. When I first started,the other porters loaded my barrow so that as soon as I lifted the handles, up it would go with me hanging on to the handles about 6 feet in the air and the lads laughing their heads off. I soon got used to this ribbing and we all had a good time, especially as the pub over the road had a special licence that allowed it to open at 5 in the morning, where we would wet our whistles and be half sloshed by 9 o’clock. Good times.