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Monday 20th January 2003

I was heading home after a hard day’s work at the library and decided to buy a paper for the tube ride. I’d already read the Guardian and the Sun (see Richard Herring is All Man for the reasons for my unusual newspaper choice) and so was going to buy the Standard (which I don’t really like, but at least it has up to date new news).
The Standard vendor at King’s Cross (who I guess is in his sixties) was shouting the usual unintelligible news-vendor shout “Eeeeeeeing Stunnnnn, eeeeeee-uh eee”, which he repeated over and over.
Amusingly, a Big Issue seller was standing about twenty feet away and in the gap between each “Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn, eeeeeee-uh eee”, he was shouting “Beeee Essssssss eeeeeee–uh eee.”
I had my 35p all ready and handed it to the aged Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn man. I took a few steps onwards, but the Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn man suddenly broke off from his Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn-ing. “Oi Guv!” he shouted.
I turned round surprised. Mainly surprised because I had clearly heard what he had said. I approached him and the other three old men who were inexplicably standing alongside him. Were they also working the stall? Or just some friends of his? Or some tramps shielding from the cold behind his small metal Evening Standard holding plinth? Or substitutes ready to take over the Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn cry if the first Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn man was to unfortunately die on duty?
The Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn man then repeated what he had been shouting to the same monotonous tune (is it possible to have a tune that is monotonous? There were in fact two tones, but I don't know the word for that). However this time he said it with exaggerated clarity (by which I mean it wasn’t particularly clear, but at least I had a shot at understanding it) “Eeeening Stannard, Forry pee!”
He wanted forty p. So that’s what he’d been saying. “Forty p? When did that happen?” I asked, to no reply. I gave him the extra 5p. The Eeeeeeeing Stunnnn man went back to his regular call and his three mates laughed at me with toothless gums.
They had a story for the pub tonight. All about the bloke who gave 35p, despite Stan clearly and repeatedly shouting the correct price.

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