Category Archives: lifestyle

Bend It

I won’t say I’m an art lover, that would be something of an exaggeration. I do, however, have quite a few framed prints, posters and flyers on my walls, more than a few, in fact, and while none of them are high art, they all have meaning for me.

Some are quirky, like the spoof L.P. cover showing four images of Jurgen Klopp mimicking the cover of Kraftwerk’s classic album “The Man Machine”, re-titled “The Gegenpresser”,  (here’s the original)

man Machine

or the ink drawing of Cthulhu in the style of Edward Gorey. Some are important, like the poster of Bill Shankly holding a red flag over his head, honouring Liverpool fans. Some are music related, such as the fake Clash concert poster, with my band as one of the supporting acts. Actually, it is a poster for a real concert altered to spec. Apparently I pushed Vic Goddard and the Subway Sect off the bill.

Having read “Publikation” by David Buckley a couple of months ago I went on a bit of a Kraftwerk bender, playing their music as I walked to and from work for the best part of two weeks. In fact, during my recent period of mental turmoil, the only thing keeping me sane was a Kraftwerk track playing in a loop in my head ( subject of an upcoming post). I decided to take a look on Etsy.com and came across a framed print of the cover to Autobahn, taken from a high end art book.

 

Autobahn

I duly ordered said print and awaited it’s arrival. I’m fortunate that the local post office is on my daily route, so about a month ago I stopped in on my way home from work in order to check my P.O. box, hoping to find a slip announcing that my print was awaiting pickup at the counter. Guess what?

I’ll tell you. My box was full, mostly with junk mail, but bent double and crammed into the box was a large Manila envelope. Can you guess what was in it? Again, I’ll tell you, but I reckon you already know. I had to work hard to get the envelope out of the box as it was jammed in, but with some effort I got it free. I’m not a violent man, but I nearly went full Incredible Hulk at that moment. You see, the envelope that had been so violently forced into my mail box was indeed, the print I had ordered. Clearly printed on the envelope in red capital letters  was the phrase “PLEASE DO NOT BEND”. Not exactly a proposition from Wittgenstein, to paraphrase Basil Fawlty. Yet the fucking genius who had last handled said envelope had managed to bend three layers of card in order to get it into my mail box. This wasn’t some  half arsed home made effort, but a purpose made mailer with a stiff cardboard back, as well as the print and the card frame, so it would have taken quite a bit of effort to bend it.

You can’t even begin to understand just how angry I was, and I am glad I didn’t encounter anyone on my way home, as a single word would have been enough to set me off. Let me show you what I had in my possession when I got home.

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See what I mean? How I managed to sleep that night I’ll never know. Of course, I took it to the Post Office in order to lodge a complaint. The alleged adult in charge did a good job, but not a thoroughly convincing one of feigning remorse, and blamed it on a “new trainee”, presumably an illiterate  one who doesn’t understand spoken English. She gave me her email and a number to call, and I left very much less than satisfied. Cut to the chase: because the sender didn’t buy insurance, I’m fucked.

I emailed the manager and the seller, but answer came there none. To say that I’m unhappy about this is the understatement of the millennium. I didn’t expect the seller to do anything, as she’s already been paid, but an acknowledgement and expression of sympathy wouldn’t have gone amiss. Of course, I knew the Post Office wouldn’t do anything, despite my further emails, but to misquote Ernestine, one of Lily Tomlin’s finest creations: “The Post Office. We don’t care, we don’t have to”.

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One More Cup Of Coffee

As we are all aware, advertising is predicated on a lie. That lie is that buying a particular product will make you happy. All you require to make your life perfect is the right vehicle, item of clothing, toothpaste or whatever. Drinking a particular beer will make you more attractive to the opposite sex, likewise using a particular shampoo. And no, you’re not too fat to wear our eye shadow.

None of this will come as any surprise, and I presume we all fight this as much as we can, even if we are deluding ourselves into believing we’re buying a product based on it’s merits and utility rather than the image it presumes to project about those who use it.  Having said all that, I recently experienced a feeling of great enjoyment due to buying something.

As I’ve made known, I drink rather too much coffee than is good for me. I used to drink an entire pot of filter coffee every morning and would often have a cup or three during the work day depending on my level of tiredness or boredom. This changed when a friend of my ex girlfriends’ gave us an espresso machine that was surplus to his requirements as he’d just bought an even fancier one. It took residence in my house as she had literally nowhere to put it, and I became an ardent espresso drinker from that point on. I drank a lot of lattes, but gradually phased the milk out of the scene, although I always kept some half and half on hand for her breves. About a year ago she bought me a demi tass and saucer from the place where we first met and I put it to immediate use. The cup held three shots, so two triples quickly became my daily dose. The cup was a little on the thick side, but no matter, as I felt that the cups’ diminutive stature lent it an air of sophistication.

One consequence of us splitting up was that I now found myself with some financial wiggle room, and although I had no intention of going crazy, I did decide to treat myself to something special. Ever since I set up the espresso machine ( A Saeco Royal Professional), I had harboured the idea of buying a set of vintage, or at least mid century modern coffee cups, but decided against it due to my poor finances.

Fast forward to last month. I headed over to the Etsy website and began searching for demi tasse sets, and leaving aside the $350 Limoges I began searching for the right set. As is usually the case, something jumped out at me pretty early on: a 12 piece Bavarian set in ivory porcelain with a hand-painted Queen Anne’s Lace design, made some time between 1900 and 1910. at only $50 it seemed like a great deal, so I placed my order and waited. I was somewhat disappointed a couple of days later to learn from the vendor that it was only a 10 piece set, rather than the 12 as advertised, but seeing as I’m very unlikely to  have five people over all of whom want espresso, I went ahead with the purchase anyway.

A short time later I picked up my package from the post office and opened it as soon as I got home. There was no way I was going to leave the cups unused, so I fired up the machine in anticipation. I can’t begin to explain just how excited I was, as the pieces were all in perfect condition and so delicate as to defy belief. Each cup and saucer weighed almost nothing, the cups are paper thin, and when full, the coffee is visible through the side. Brim-full, the cups only just hold two shots, but this concentrates the crema perfectly, producing a thick, uniform layer atop the coffee. What just blew me away was the fact that something so delicate had survived so long undamaged, although they probably spent most of their existence locked safely away in a dining room china cabinet.

Not so in this house. One thing I did learn from my ex girlfriend is that what you drink out of is as much a part of the experience as what you drink. With handles no bigger than my thumb nail and a saucer delicate beyond belief, I just had to make immediate use of them. As I’d already had my regular morning allowance, I restricted myself to two cups, meaning that by the time I left for work I’d had 10 shots of espresso.

My morning routine has altered somewhat as a result. I now take a good half hour or more to sit in my glider by the window and savour three cups while reading and relaxing. Being so small, there’s nothing to be gained by knocking the coffee back like tequila shots in a bar, and the experience of handling something so small and exquisite really does add a layer of enjoyment it is difficult to describe. I get to experience every sip to the full, and can make a double last a lot longer than a triple from my old cup, which is now banished to the back of the crockery cupboard for use in extremis only. I know it may all seem a bit too precious, but I am really enjoying being able to put to use something that probably only ever saw the light of day a couple of times a year. And lest you think I’m exaggerating, this is what they look like:                                                                         cup

Yeah. Exactly. Tell me that drinking out of a cup like this wouldn’t feel special. I bet you can’t do it with a straight face. Suffice it to say that my new routine has resulted in a much more relaxed start to the day and my mood has improved, which is no bad thing. I know that they’re an indulgence, but can you really blame me? I mean, who can say that using something so special can’t be justified? I’d rather something be put to it’s intended purpose than languish in a cabinet collecting dust. I suppose I should finish now and start getting ready for work. Hmm. I wonder if I have time for just one more cup.

 

 

 

 

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Five Years

About two weeks ago I received a text from my “On a break” sweetie asking if we could talk. I put her off for a few days as I wasn’t really in the mood to talk to her and had already decided that we were done. I did think about sending her a text saying as much but decided not to. By this point I had already been on two dates (of which, more later), having reactivated my dating site accounts about three days after her telling me that we were on a break.

I had already bagged up all her toiletries, but left her clothes in the closet as I don’t really have a better place for them. As you can see, I’d already moved on, having realised that I  was the one making all the effort and getting very little in return. When the phone call did take place, it was all over in about two minutes. Of course, she had decided that we were done, no surprise there, and from my text agreeing to the call, she had reached the same conclusion regarding yours truly.

We had always joked to people that if we did ever split up, there’d be a custody battle over the espresso machine, but as it turned out, she said that I could keep it. Too bloody right, I was keeping it. I know it was given to us by a friend of hers, but she’s pretty much given up drinking coffee, except for the occasional purchased breve, but she also has nowhere to put it in her kitchen as it is too tall to fit in the space between the counter and the cupboards. I told her that I had intended to keep it anyway, and she didn’t argue. She would have been a real dog in a manger to do so, and we both knew it, so it ended there.

I told the kids about it last night, and my daughter claimed that she had “Sort of seen it coming”. I’m not convinced that I believe her, but she is a very astute girl, so I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. It seems a bit weird that a five year relationship should end with such a sudden whimper, but I guess I had seen it coming too.

To be honest, not having to schlep over to Seattle every other weekend either directly from work or very early on Sunday morning has been very refreshing. I’ve enjoyed long lies in, had time to myself, done some cooking and been able to watch the Liverpool game without the need to balance a laptop on my knees and wear headphones. I know the above sounds selfish, but when you have no time to yourself, life can be a little wearing. To be honest, the first weekend I had to myself this year was in mid June when my now ex sweetie was away in Fiji and the kids were in Hawaii. Six months without a weekend to myself. Seriously, is it expecting too much to want some time in one’s own head and not have to fit housework, shopping and all the rest around other people’s schedules? I really don’t think so, at least, not for a single guy. Marriage is a full time commitment, but at least with marriage you have a partner with whom to share the load. Usually.

A lot has happened over the last five years, most of it good. We took several trips, including a week in Hawaii, I’ve learned a bit about wine, been introduced to the music of The Old 97s, seen films I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, visited new restaurants and had my horizons otherwise broadened. I’ll go into greater detail in a later post or two, but my recent dates have been quite encouraging, one of them extremely so, and that gives me some hope. I mean, I’m now five years older than I was at the start of my most recent relationship, and one does wonder about one’s shelf life, especially at my age. I will admit that I’ve lost some weight this year due largely to my decreased drinking, increased walking and improved eating habits, but still, there’s always an element of self doubt regarding one’s own attractiveness to others.

I do also wonder about my ability to maintain a long term relationship. Maybe my Aspergers and general selfishness and lack of empathy mean I’m not going to find someone with whom to live out my years, but that way madness lies, so I’m not going to think about that too much in case I go into an emotional death spiral.

I do wonder, however if she had started seeing someone else before we ended it. She took herself off for a weekend a few months ago, to “Think things over” and I did wonder then if anything was going on. She didn’t travel on her own for the first four years we were together and I admit that I examined the picture she sent me very closely for any sign of a second person, but that may just have been my natural paranoia.

I don’t have a snappy ending for this post, maybe because the end was so anti-climactic and unemotional. However, having made the decision to move on, I feel much better in and about myself. Details to follow.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

My financial situation needs no reprise, so let me start by saying that toward the end of August I was faced with something of a dilemma. My then current situation was bordering on the untenable, in that I had funds enough for September’s rent, but no more, and with no job on the horizon, despite countless applications and targeted cover letters I needed to make a decision. The details are for a future post ( See “Back On The Chain Gang”), but I secured a job in the nick of time and set about finding somewhere to live within my means. Opportunities were limited, and to cut a long story short, I ruled out a place in a complex not too far away on the basis that it would be a near run thing to make the rent every month. I also ruled out a place within a ten minute walk of my then current home on the basis that it was dark, half-buried and lacked a washer and dryer. I would have to drag my laundry to and from a shed in the next building to use coin-op machines and hope that they were available. Foxtrot Tango Sierra.

I found a place online that my sweetie also found, and set up an appointment. I’d pretty much made up my mind before seeing the unit, but as it was only five square feet smaller than where I was living, had an extra powder room downstairs and two parking spots within 75 feet of the door, I was pretty much sold before I stepped inside. The leasing agent was obviously desperate, and when I said I could move in in two days and had no pets,  she was so pleased I was surprised (and not a little disappointed) that she didn’t blow me on the spot. At $700 a month less than my current place, it was a no brainer.

I started moving my stuff in on the Saturday, as I’d already started boxing up books, etc. and was able to make three or four runs a day in the car. Of course, like last time ( See “The Boxer”), I chose to move in the middle of a heatwave. I spent the best part (worst part, surely?) of two weeks schlepping boxes, small appliances and furniture to my car in order to move them to my new place. Needless to say, I was pounding down pints of water at every opportunity, and yet it seemed to do me little good. It is easy to lose enthusiasm when you develop a sweat rash around your waist, and being coated in a layer of evapourating water becomes the norm. It’s a rather unpleasant experience to bend over in order to pick up a box and feel rivulets of sweat stream down your cheeks and off the end of your nose. Nevertheless, I managed to move all but the largest pieces of furniture unaided, and considered myself fortunate not to have suffered any permanent injuries.

I had lived in my old place for three years, and hardly anyone had given me the time of day, but miracle of miracles, once I started my beast of burden impression, every Chatty Kathy within range began asking “Oooh, are you moving?” Fuck off. Seriously, just fuck off. I started out pretty well organised, but by the end I was simply throwing things in boxes or directly into the back of the car. This was in part due to the distance involved, but also my desire to just GTF out of Dodge as soon as humanly possible.

It’s now been a few weeks since I moved in. I hung my art, the T.V. is on the wall thanks to the sterling assistance of my son and I’ve already had  more interaction with my  new neighbours than I had with my old ones in three years. The place was built in the Seventies, and it shows, but all in all, I’m pretty happy with my move. I’m beginning to settle into a routine, and the kids and my sweetie like the place . For the minute though, lacking sufficient bookshelf space, I had to  improvise, laying the banker boxes on their sides, setting them in their lids and stacking them three deep to provide impromptu shelving. My sweetie bemoaned their college dorm room appearance, but as I explained to her, being able to see my books brings me comfort in the same way that being able to see her books brings her comfort. It has made me realise though, that I need long, low bookcases rather than the tall, standard type to make best use of the space under the breakfast bar and also leave as much wall space as possible available for art.

In the weeks since I moved in I have experimented  with placement, cupboard organisation and making the best use of every cubic inch of space. You see, much as I moaned about my last place, it had more cupboard space in the kitchen than I needed, whereas my new place is woefully deficient in that department. The fridge is much smaller as well, making it an issue when I go shopping. In fact, I don’t so much walk into the kitchen as put it on, it being a galley, and in fact, narrower than most hallways. Mind you, it sure as hell beats living in the car.

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Left To My Own Devices

During my regular morning perusal of Theguardian.com I came across a rather depressing story. I know there have been many of late, but this  had nothing to do with the daily flood of diarrohea from SCROTUS. On the technology page I read that Apple has stopped making the iPod Nano and Shuffle, the last two stand – alone MP3  players in their catalogue. I am sure that this item didn’t create even the tiniest blip on the personal radars of most people, but it took the edge off my day for a number of reasons.

I should point out that I understand why Apple did this: they want the iPhone to be all things to all people, and want everyone to rely on their little block of plastic, glass and silicon for everything.  From an economic perspective it makes sense, as simplifying product lines improves efficiency and simplifies the supply chain, but it left me feeling cold. Let me explain:

I’m an alien. I was born on the planet analogue and for many years lived a conventional life among humans, blending in ( apart from the Aspergers) and getting by. I had a very large vinyl collection, and it gave me great comfort. to quote the band Cornershop, “Everyone needs a bosom for a pillow, mine’s on the 45”, even though it occupied more of my bedroom than I did. I ignored CDs until it was too late,and managed to survive the 90’s by pretty much ignoring contemporary music. My life changed when my then Father In Law bought me a third generation iPod after my then wife asked him what version would be best for my commute.  I was faced with the opportunity to put more  music in my shirt pocket than I could put in my bedroom, and I embraced it without question. I was stunned, don’t get me wrong, but the ability to hold 30 days of non stop music in my hand was more than I could believe.

In my youth I owned a Walkman. Every Saturday I would have to decide which four tapes  I  would put into the pockets of my Italian army combat jacket  before I took the train into Liverpool to spend my money on music. It was not a simple task: : picking the wrong tape meant I would be stuck listening to something for which  I wasn’t in the mood, and let’s face it, that really stinks. The iPod gave me the opportunity to change my mind and to create playlists longer than half a dozen compilation tapes. Lest you think I put my past behind me, think again. I have two large boxes stuffed with C 90 tapes stored in the closet and three, yes, count ’em, three functioning Walkmen, as well as two boom boxes.  My first iPod had a duff battery, but the second one lasted well, especially after my son replaced the corrupt hard drive that after almost 10 years finally gave up the ghost. I also bought one of the last generation models, as 160 GB should keep me going for some time, and when I bought it, I regarded my 80 GB model as beyond repair. I also have  a couple of shuffles, a 1GB and a newer 2GB model which I used to use exclusively for podcasts on my commute. I could clip the iPod to the headphone cord, and if wearing earbuds, it took up almost no space in whatever bag or Eastern European military map case I happened to be using that day.

It seems to me that the life cycles of electronic devices are getting shorter. We have become as accustomed to the concept of this year’s iPhone model as we have to the idea of this year’s new car model. A practice, I hasten to point out, which began in the 1920’s once sales began to level off. I mean, do we really need a new model phone every year? I’m still using a Galaxy 3, and it serves me darn well. In fact, I don’t even use all the functions, so in some respects, it is more than I need.

Phone batteries have a crappy lifespan, and the fact that I get a weeks’ worth of normal use out of  my iPod between charges is something I appreciate. I also appreciate the fact that it is a single function device, and therefore is subject to the inverse law of “The less there is to go wrong, the less there is to go wrong” I now have four devices that should last me a good 20 years between them, and I wonder how many of you can say the same things about your new iPhone? Do you know anyone who still uses a first generation iPhone? No, you don’t.

You’ll have to excuse me. I’m in the mood to listen to some original recordings of Caruso, but I just can’t find the right wax cylinder.

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Colony.

In September of 2014 I moved  into an intentional community. Based on “One Earth” principals, ( i.e. how could we all live if we only had one Earth to live on?”, it offered a sustainable, low impact lifestyle whilst offering a high level of walkability. I expected and assumed that most of the people who chose to live there would be doing so based on wanting to shrink their carbon footprint, reduce the amount of driving in their lives and reduce their levels of consumption and possessions. I wasn’t expecting a latter day New Lanark, or some Herbert Morrison style socialist paradise with everyone living in yurts and knitting their own yogurt,  but I imagined an open, collective-minded community with a strong spirit of identity.

Alas, this is far from the case. Most of the home owners appear to be empty nesters who sold their McMansions , bought something smaller and pocketed the difference. I think they were less motivated by the solar panels, ductless heat pumps and superb insulation than by the chance to trouser a substantial wad of cash, move into a new home and still be within a few minutes walk of the throbbing groin of Downtown.  To be honest, despite my jokes about the neighbours when I moved in, the overwhelming stench of Pachouli, stewed lentils and unwashed armpits would have been preferable.

Instead what we have  is society writ small. The owners already look down on we renters, as indeed do the developers, who distributed guest parking passes to the owners, but not to us.

There are a number of ways to spot members of the chattering classes, and I’ve seen several examples over the last few months: There are a  considerable number of young children here, not a bad thing in itself, but having to dodge abandoned toys and the like is irritating, especially in the dark, or when wheeling groceries from the car to the house. Indeed, an email was circulated asking parents to deal with the issue of bikes, toys etc left lying on the lawn and pathways overnight as well as the damage caused to someone’s garden bench by crayons and paint.

Now, if you were brought up by parents like mine, you would have been expected to tidy your things away at the end of the day and would have been taught how to be a decent member of society and be aware of other people. Guess what? These people aren’t like that. Their solution, so as not to spoil the creativity of their little darlings –  precious snowflakes all, no doubt – was to form a “Circle” , i.e. a Kaffee Klatsch to discuss the issue. This is their solution to all issues, though we never  seem to hear of any resolution. It appears to me that the circle jerks decide what they want, and the rest of us can go to hell.

The worst example of this is the parking. Each residence is allocated one spot with four guest spots available.  The Politburo – the biggest circle jerks of all –  has now decided that each person will be given a designated spot allocated allegedly on the location of their home and size of their car. When I read the initial email I had one hell of a job getting fragments of exploded bullshit detector out of the walls, believe me.  No doubt the best and most convenient spots will go to those who made the decision and their friends.

This, however, is not enough for some people.  Despite  being well aware of the parking situation before moving in, one couple recently announced that they would like to rent a second spot in the lot, and are willing to pay $50 – $75 a month. Yes, your eyes aren’t deceiving you – A MONTH. You can’t find bicycle parking for that price. I knew that most of the residents were self important pricks with a sense of entitlement, but this just takes the biscuit. Preferably one that’s just been in a circle. I’m not sure who the people in question are, but I don’t think I’ve seen the husband. The guy must need a wheelbarrow to push around his enormous balls, and I’m sure I would have noticed that.

So what do I do? the kids love the place. On their first weekend here, my daughter walked to the library three times just because she could. They live in an area with no sidewalks and miles from downtown so I can’t say I blame her. It’s safe to let them go out on their own, and downtown is small enough that they can’t go far anyway. It’s handy for the boat and I love being able to walk to the store. In my previous house, any trip involved the car and if I forgot something I just had to do without, whereas here there is no hassle in popping out again, indeed, I often end up going to the store twice in one day. There’s no way I could find a place this new in a similar location for the same price, and moving off island would increase my gas costs and make it harder to see the kids during the week.

I realise that some of this is down to me ( see “I’m Coming Out”), and it’s been 18 months, so it’s a bit late to start making the effort, although I’m trying my best to be friendly to people. I’d hate to have to move if I can’t find a job before the money runs out, (see “Black Coffee In Bed”) but it might come to that. Despite what I’ve said, I really like living here – it suits my needs and is incredibly convenient and it’s the nicest place I’ve ever lived, apart from the kid’s house. I don’t have an upbeat ending for this post, sorry. Let’s just hope my next housewarming party doesn’t take place in a discarded refrigerator box. “Spare a talent for an old ex leper” anyone?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Street Life.

I apologise for posting so soon, but as I have four already lined up, I’d rather just get on with it.

Like most people, I inhabit two  worlds : that of home and that of work. We all change hats several times a day between parent, partner, co worker, friend etc, over the course of the day, but I have a very distinct split between the two physical spaces I inhabit on a daily basis. I live in a pretty small town and to say that they roll up the sidewalks at seven pm would not be too much of an exaggeration. My morning 15 minute walk to the boat is along  a gravel path and then the main drag. The only other people I encounter are fellow commuters and the occasional delivery guy dropping off supplies at any one of the numerous “Downtown” stores. It’s a quiet walk along a well maintained and clean pavement  with uninhabited doorways all the way down. On the boat, my fellow passengers are decked out in durable outerwear and The North Face, Arcteryx and REI labels abound. They sit chatting or reading, often from screens whilst sipping ( I assume  shade grown, fair trade organic) coffee from travel mugs or from Thermos flasks that resemble nothing so much as post – modern artillery shells and eat whatever they have brought for breakfast.

Upon reaching the other side, one is faced with two options: One can either be assailed by the stench of stale urine, or by taking a different route, a host of Somali town car drivers touting for business. The choice is yours. I go for the urine free route as it is not only quicker but also less upsetting. This doesn’t last for long however as the first sight that greets me upon leaving the terminal is that of someone sleeping underneath the eaves of the Subway outlet wrapped in the sort of felt blanket used by movers to protect furniture. It gets worse. after crossing the road the first thing I see is a small dome tent set up underneath the viaduct, the guy ropes held in place by concrete blocks and a wheelchair parked outside. Just dwell on that for a moment. This tent along with a couple of others nearby seem to be permanent fixtures, and I can’t even begin to imagine what life must be like for their residents. Nor do I really want to, if I am being honest.

The rest of the walk is fairly uneventful as the residents stir from their doorways and collect in small huddles in the park or near the day center front doors, waiting for them to open. There are a couple of exceptions: namely the scrawny individual in heels, fishnets and leather mini skirt who was several yards ahead of me one morning. Lets’ face it, most people aren’t dressed like that at 7 AM and my first reaction of “That’s a dude” proved disturbingly accurate. The other is the man camped in the corner doorway at the last light before my office who on at least two occasions last week greeted the new day by hurling abuse at someone only he could see.

The evening walk is sometimes offers more more interesting sights, including the old guy, naked from the waist up throwing various items of clothing into his open suitcase which was lying in the road to the obvious amusement and bemusement of the onlooking police officer waiting for his backup to arrive. Or perhaps the woman who seemed to be engaged in a mixture of interpretive dance and traffic direction despite the lack of either music or traffic. Other locals are in full vigour and never seem to miss a chance to hit someone up for money. I will admit that they are always polite, and begin with “Sir, sir!” before introducing themselves and inquiring about your general well being before asking for enough cash (often $10) to pay for a bed at a certain local hostel. Now, I realise that Christians can be a pretty uncharitable group at times, but I find it very difficult to believe that even they would charge a homeless person $10 for a bed. Needless to say I avoid such encounters as much as I can, as not only do I not carry much cash, (due largely to not having much anyway) but I’m not as green as I’m cabbage looking, and earphones and a brisk walking pace also help one avoid most interactions.

I realise this all sounds a bit harsh, but what am I supposed to do? Any money I give will no doubt be used to buy either a hit or a 40 ouncer, and I’m just not going to support that. Within 45 minutes of leaving work I am back home, in my slippers and ready to enjoy dinner. I know my commute sounds a bit like a case of “Cheap holidays in other people’s misery” but how many of us are absolutely sure that we are not just one financial disaster away from standing on a street corner with  a message on a piece of cardboard in one hand and a used soda cup in the other? I’m damn sure I’m not.

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