Camden Tells Onion Sellers: "That's Your Shallot"

By london_ken Last edited 146 months ago
Camden Tells Onion Sellers: "That's Your Shallot"
Vampire Food

It's a rite of passage for any Londoner (or anyone who's walked up Tottenham Court Road, at least) to be accosted by a man who trades from the back of his van, usually offering some heavily discounted speakers. Apparently, if you're posh enough to live in Hampstead or Marylebone (we hardly need to tell you that Londonist writers don't fall into that category, not on our wages), you get an upmarket version of this: two blokes who go round on their bikes offering to sell you onions, shallots and garlic.

Those class warriors at Camden Council aren't having any of this, though. According to a story in the Ham & High, the two 'Johnnie Onions' are having to fight "to protect their right to sell onions in Hampstead from their bike baskets." Sounds a bit harsh on first reading but then you look at the detail. Basically these blokes, who may or may not be resplendent in stripey shirts, beret and drainpipe trousers, not only go round selling door-to-door to the people too posh to shop even in Waitrose, but they also sneak into farmers' markets and try to grab some of the custom there, and that's what Camden Council's not happy about. Based on our understanding of markets (mainly through watching Eastenders), we're pretty sure that you have to apply for and pay to run a stall at these things and Camden Council's spokeswoman confirms this: "We have explained to [Monsieur Caroff] how he can go about getting the proper licence that he needs that will enable him to sell his onions." We're no fan of bureaucracy and red tape but it seems somewhat rum of these chaps to come along on their bikes and bypass all that when they've been told what to do.

Talking of bypassing processes, the gentlemen from Britanny are enlisting the Queen in their defence, what with the French being renowned monarchists and all. They reckon that "The Queen has said publicly she likes the tradition and says we are allowed to sell in the streets." Constitutionally, we must admit we're not sure if the Queen can just say something's the law and it becomes so, but we're pretty sure that precedent dictates that Parliament might fancy a hand in the process. Bonne chance, Monsieurs Caroff et Lenoach.

Photo taken from adactio's Flickr photostream under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence.

Last Updated 03 February 2006