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CHEAPJACK [Paperback]

Vanessa Toulmin , Julia Jones , Philip Allingham , Francis Wheen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 12.01 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Duck (UK) Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (1 Mar 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899262024
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899262021
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 963,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Philip Allingham was born into respectability. His father was a writer, his mother was a writer, his older sister Margery went on to become one of Britain's most popular crime novelists. Young Philip, sadly, distinguished himself at very little - unless you count flunking his Oxford entrance exam in heroic fashion as an achievement. What Philip did possess, though, was an uncanny ability to "read" people, and one day in 1927, tired of failing in a succession of boring, dead-end jobs his family connections had found for him, he decided to put that talent to use.

"Cheapjack" recounts Allingham's efforts to earn a living as a palmist and fortune-teller, initially in the pubs of London and then as an itinerant showman at fairs and markets the length of the land. It's a tale of rogues and charlatans, gypsies and fairground folk, tick-off merchants, pitchers and waver-workers. Allingham recalls his adventures among a cast of memorable characters - Three Fingered Billy, a hard-drinking Geordie, the Little Major, a walking encyclopaedia of every fairground trick in the book, and the appalling Alfie Holmsworth, theatrical "agent" to the gullible and deluded.

More than that, "Cheapjack" is a fascinating slice of social history. Studded with rich fairground slang, it evokes a pre-war era when every community had its thriving market, entire towns shut down and went on holiday during their "Wakes Weeks", and working people took their enjoyment collectively at the fairs and festivals that marked the passage of the seasons. It's a world that's all but disappeared now, but one that lives on in Philip Allingham's poignant memoir, which is often touching, occasionally hilarious, and never less than thoroughly absorbing.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3.0 out of 5 stars A middle class young man goes on the road as a fairground barker 15 May 2014
By Ms. L. R. Fisher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Philip Allingham was the brother of the great detective story and thriller writer Margery Allingham, and she may have helped him in the writing of this book. Like George Orwell and Monica Dickens, he stepped out of his own class and lived a very different life. (Orwell lived as a tramp and a washer-up; Dickens worked as a servant in the 30s, and as a nurse and in a munitions factory in the 40s.) Allingham started as a fortune teller, wearing faultless evening dress. He was pretty good at it, and began to go around the fair circuit, sharing rooms in grimy lodging houses. Eventually, however, he found his true metier - as a barker selling miracle curling irons. He employed a "model" - a girl with long straight hair that he would submit to his process. There's a bit of romance, and an insight into a world that has almost vanished. A book to set beside Memoirs of a Sword Swallower, A World of Wonders and Nightmare Alley. A fortune teller and some gypsies feature in Margery Allingham's books.
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