End of an era, having just received this text from "Les" (pictured/above right), well-known newspaper vendor (to those in the know), who could be found by Marble Arch Tube Station, Saturday Nights/Early Sunday Morning.
"Sadly, old age plus other factors have made me retire. The pitch is now being managed by a friendly guy named Bob. Many, many thanks for your generous patronage!!"
As I mentioned in this Time Out Q&A last March, Les was my choice of 'local gem', a legendary living London landmark who was my point of call late on a Saturday night to get the Sunday papers that little bit earlier than the rest.
I relish many a good chat with Les whose wisdom, wit & wackiness often added that special something to the end of my Saturday night. Les had so many brilliant stories about everyone, whether he was pointing out the local hoodlums noisily passing his 'patch', dishing deeper dirt on celebrities featured in the freshly printed tabloid's 'Exclusives' right under our noses or chatting to all the 'regulars' who'd come like bees to honey for their news-fix and/or a quick bit of counsel from Les himself; 'regulars' who ranged from cabbies, druggies, drunken revellers, famous faces (I remember seeing Lucian Freud bowl up one time, greeting Les like a long-standing business acquaintance!) and anyone else worthy of mention.
As print/newspaper faces a tough time in a sunset industry, it's no suprise that Les packed it in. He'd recently downsized from selling papers daily to simply Saturday nights and told me that after 31 years of trade, he'd grown tired of the hectic/dangerous 'street life' around him as well as problems with Westminister Council affecting him by making it difficult to store/secure his table for laying out his wares.
Raise your glass of 'Speckled Hen' (apparently his favourite tipple) and jon me in wishing Les, all the best for 2010 and beyond.
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