The Bastard and the Skinner

It’s hard, but somehow I am managing to resist calling this man the B word

Did you see The Bastard of Billingsgate? He was the chief character in a documentary (two weeks ago – sorry – we’re soooo busy…) about Billlingsgate. He must regret signing up to that, after the documentary revealed his dreadful standards of fish-keeping.

James buys from about 20 Billingsgate merchants, but never from Roger. “He caught me out once years ago…I’ve never been back”.

The programme also described how the age-old closed shop of the fish porters has just been abolished: until last month, only an official badge-holding porter was allowed to move fish. Now, the porters had been bought-out, and anyone can move the fish.

Moreover the ancient “Nothing can be removed from the market before 5am,” rule has been dropped.

These changes have eliminated a dreadful bottleneck, enabling James to get away from the market at least an hour earlier, avoiding the rush hour and getting back to Fish Palace nearly two hours earlier.

“Some interesting and sympathetic characters – the “minders” who used to keep an eye on the fish delivered to your van, charging you £2 for the privilege – have gone too. I’ll miss them. For years I parked on “Skinner’s Stand”. Skinner must have been the original minder of that stand in about 1980. He probably retired 25 years ago but his name lived on. I fear he will very shortly be forgotten.”


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