Chestnut season is approaching here in Tenerife. It’s a time which usually makes me nostalgic, remembering the sellers on the streets of London and Manchester in the England of my youth.
This year, however, my nostalgia is sated, and in all of London’s hustle and bustle I have a lovely memory of Gus, who is acclaimed by non other than Antonio Carluccio as the city’s best chestnut seller!
Gus’s stand was outside the Excel Center during WTM, but on the first two days I was rushing around like everyone else. On the third day I stopped to ask him if he would be there tomorrow – I wanted to take a snap for friends in Tenerife, but my camera was buried deep in my backpack and I didn’t want to mess about looking for it.
“Sure I will,” he said. “I’m here every day. Here, take a bag and you can pay me tomorrow.”
I protested that it wasn’t lack of money which had prompted my question, but he insisted so cheerfully that I accepted, and rushed off to nurse my sore throat. I was disappointed to arrive on Thursday and see he wasn’t there, but, sure enough, when I emerged mid-afternoon there he was on his usual corner.
I reminded him that I owed him money, though he clearly had forgotten, and we bantered for a while. He told me that he sold chestnuts at most big events, including movie premieres at Leicester Square, and that I should Google “The best chestnut seller in London” and I would find him. No Facebook page, but coming! When I bought a second bag of chestnuts, he pressed a third one on me “for my honesty in coming back to pay”……..I wonder how many folk don’t respect his kindness or forget to go back when he gives his goods away?
It was a bleak kind of afternoon, warmed by both his delicious chestnuts and his cheerfulness…..my only regret is that I didn’t chat for longer – when I checked out that Google link it made me think he would have had a whole host of stories to tell!
For my visit to WTM I stayed in a delightful apartment in Hackney supplied by HomeAwayUK. My thanks to them for making my stay so much better :=)
November 16, 2012 at 3:46 pm
What a lovely post, Linda and well done for stopping to chat to Gus. Like most other people, we rushed past him on our way to the train, only remarking to each other how nice it was to see roasted chestnuts being sold and mourning the loss of our usual appointment with a harbour, chesnuts and the new wine.
November 16, 2012 at 4:10 pm
Afterwards I kicked myself for not asking him more about himself! He was very open and chatty, but I was cold and heading for coffee with a not-seen-for-years friend! She enjoyed the chestnuts though, even if they weren’t still red hot when she got them! Hopefully you’ve made up for lost time with the chestnuts in Puerto de la Cruz!
November 19, 2012 at 10:07 pm
Ah, one of the many things I meant to do on this trip (chip butties, anyone?)! Glad you remembered. And glad you ended up meeting such a lovely fellow. 🙂