“In the early eighties, I was an apprentice gilder and restorer in London when I was 21. A lovely rag-and-bone man called Tommy used to come by the studio on his rounds, with his pony and cart, collecting unwanted items which he would later sell on. We always used to make a big fuss of him and his pony and he was part of the colourful community that made up Ladbroke Grove and Notting Hill in those days. One day I was late for work and rushed out of the tube station to see Tommy and his pony trot up the main road driving his cart. I jokingly stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride and to my delight, he pulled up, stopped the traffic, jumped down, took off his cap and hastily combed his hair, then sat me on the seat, which was an up-turned fridge. He handed me the reins and sat beside me, and together we clattered up Ladbroke Grove, him ringing his bell and me calling out “Rag and bone, rag and bone”. It was actually one of my proudest moments and I considered it a privilege. They were very much part of London life years ago; I expect they have all gone now, but I hope some of them have survived. It must have been a tough life. To this day, Steptoe and Son is one of my favourite old TV programmes.”

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