The Hedonist Joint Stock Company.

Bell Studios
103 Walcot Street
Nr. Bath
Somerset, BA1 5BW

07969 041322

[email protected]

Hedonist Press
Specialist printers on

hemp paper.

Tuesday 17th August

A Peddlar’s Tale

(A personal account)

The Struggling Retailer sets sail from its Walcot Street base at around 11.30am. It’s only my fourth time out this summer, so I’m still enjoying it a lot and its sunny so I’m looking forward to the day I sell a copy of “Awash With Ale” by Swift & Elliott outside Nashers.

The Retailer rolls to the bottom of Walcot Street, right into Broad Street and then left into Green Street. We have a gentle bimble down Union Street until approached by a man. He looks as if he spends too much time under neon strip lights, and I’m not sure but maybe he has cobwebs around his face.
The man asks me if I have a Pedlars Certificate and I tell him yes I do. He hangs around for a bit so I say “Oh, would you like to see it?” and he says yes. I show him it. It looks like this.

On the back is space for “Endorsements under the Pedlars Act 1871”. Fortunately I don’t have any yet, but then I haven’t been out much. The man (who is wearing a stripy nylon shirt) asks me all sorts of questions, most of which are already answered by the details on my Pedlar’s Certificate. I ask him what he’s up to, who he is and which hairdresser does he go to? He says he’ll tell me in a minute when he’s finished making a note of my details.

Then he shows me his identity card. It’s quite plain looking, laminated, typeface is Helvetica and it has the logo of the so-called Bath & North East Somerset Council (a dull six-pointed star in blue and green, colours that don’t go together well at all). The card says his name is Mel O’hagan (small ’h’). I wonder if he’s from Bath, or whether he drives here from Devizes or somewhere just to hassle people like me who do live here. I have certainly not met him in the pub before now.

Aesthetically his identity card has all the appeal of his nylon shirt, and makes me hope I never have to carry an identity card with me too. (However all the indications are that the UK totalitarian state is now well established and we’ve just gotta learn to live with it or leave the country.)

When he is finished writing stuff down about me he says right, now you’ve got to stop. I say, “Hello mate I don’t think so”.

He says I am doing all sorts of things that contravene the conditions of my Pedlar’s Certificate. I say, “I’m very sorry but I think you’re mistaken mate”.

He says he is surprised that the people who issued my Certificate (Avon & Somerset Police) didn’t tell me that I wasn’t allowed to operate like this. He makes up a list of things I’m doing wrong including:

  • I’m not allowed to have umbrellas to provide shade in the sun
  • My tricycle is too big.
  • I’m not allowed to play music (I was playing Bath’s world music superstars Baka Beyond’s “Live & Pedal Powered”CD at the time, a bargain at 12.00).
  • He says I’m not allowed to use pedal power to move around! How d’ya like that? Maybe it would be ok if I had a petrol engine like you drive to work with then?

He says I’m not allowed to sell any of the stuff I’m selling under a Pedlar’s Certificate.
I’m selling T-shirts, CD’s, hand-made necklaces and books written by local authors. In fact everything I sell is made by Bath artists. It is my policy to only sell stuff made in Bath by people who live here.

I say "Well I’d like to see your copy of the Pedlar’s act 1871 mate, ’cos the copy I’ve seen doesn’t have any of those stupid rules in it. (In fact there’s no way the Pedlar’s Act 1871 can have anything about pedal power in it because no-one invented the bicycle until the 1890’s.)

Mal says there’s a copy in the library and I say well I couldn’t find it last time I looked so can I see a copy of yours please. He says it would take you all day to read the whole act and I say that’s fine mate I’m a publisher. I like reading long bits of writing. He says well you’ve got to stop trading and I say “I don’t think so mate, you’re wrong. You’re just a bully, and I’d like to see a copy of what you’re saying in writing”. He says ok then I’ll go and get you a photocopy of the Pedlar’s Act 1871. I say great, see you later mate.

Later on...

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