Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Brother can you spare a dime

I sat in Soho last night at a table outside the Costa on Old Compton Street. A homeless person joined me, and smoked the remains of a cigarette, whilst shouting incomprehensibly at passers by.

It was quite distressing to watch him. He was younger than me; a good-looking bloke but obviously drunk and utterly unpredictable. I wondered what had happened to bring him to this place. Very few people, after all, are born homeless.

He seemed angry with the world, perhaps unsurprisingly. The things he shouted were often homophobic and xenophobic. It felt like the wrong place to be spouting those kinds of views. Two Spanish people walked past, and he shouted, "speaker di lingo." Ironically, the only two people who stopped to give money were an Italian and a gay person! I felt very sad to see the way people were looking through him. Some people were looking at him with actual disdain.

He carried on talking to himself; "I ain't perfect" he said to one guy,  and then as more and more people streamed past, ignoring him, "you must have heard of me. I think every body in this world knows me." Sadly, I feel this statement might have been as far from the truth as it's possible to stray! 

Then it all got a bit tragic. "I ain't scared of the grim reaper," he said "there ain't no such thing as the grim reaper." And I wondered if at that moment he genuinely felt that his life was worthless. Then he started singing, which made me so sad that I had to walk away.

I gave him a quid as I left. 

We're in Redhill this afternoon with our friend, Kate and her very charming and profoundly musical son, Lukas. We've built the most enormous mechanical rat-run in the sitting room out of all sorts of toy trains and things. It is absolutely brilliant... And we got it on film! You Tube here we come!

April 5th, 1661, and Pepys went to Jacob Lucy's, where a large gathering of people were being particularly merry. It is likely that Lucy, a merchant, had some kind of weighing machine, for the talk turned to people's weight. Wagers were made, people weighed themselves, and Pepys went away with "half a piece" and a big smile on his face!

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