I gave a homeless bloke a fiver the other day. He’s been crouched outside Lloyd’s bank for weeks now and it’s been so cold recently. that I just crumbled. People advise not to give homeless people money, saying that you should offer to buy them something to eat or a hot drink but he had a stack of takeaway coffee cups piled up next to him already and, in all honesty, he wanted cash. He was very grateful and kind and told me that the only homeless shelter that could help was miles away and that rooms cost £13 per night – a figure he couldn’t hope to drum up in a day. I noticed that his hands were bare and I considered purchasing a pair of gloves from one of the charity shops but my innate Britishness stopped me. I would feel awkward giving them to him, as if I would offend him somehow or as if I was being patronising in some way when, really, all he wants/needs is some money. A stupid affliction which I probably shouldn’t blame on my nationality but nevertheless would be a feeling familiar to many other Brits, I reckon. Maybe I should conduct an informal survey to see if I’m right.
On Friday, we went to the Local to watch the football. It was rammed with plenty of old regulars returning to the fold, and stayed busy all night which was unheard of even in the good old days. There was a lot of ‘kids’ in there who were friends of the landlady I think, so were probably twenty or twenty-one. Later though, there was a distinct air of menace rumbling around us. Mr P didn’t notice but there was something about the atmosphere that I didn’t like. A few young girls turned up dressed up to the nines. I know I should be peering down a lorgnette as I say this, mouth screwed up like a cat’s arse, but they had bare legs! In January! When it’s barely 2c outside! One of them had a gash on her head: she told one person that she had been hit and another that she had been bitten by a dog. Another had grass stains on the back of her white mini skirt. The lads in there seemed coke-addled to me. Maybe I’m being over-sensitive, perhaps they were just young people letting their hair down and having good, innocent fun but I don’t think so somehow. I worry that they’re using their friendship with the new landlady as an excuse to turn the Local into a kindergarten, a place where anyone can get served booze and coke can fly around freely. The new landlady is lovely but somewhat naive – I just hope they don’t take advantage of her because I am willing her to make it work.
Apart from the other Mr P confessing that he and his wife were going through a rough patch and blaming it on the time of year – despite the fact he said the very same thing to me when we last met at then end of November – and Mr C and Miss B having a very in depth heart-to-heart with their noses practically touching and their ankles intertwined which would not have amused Miss G had she stuck around, it was an uneventful night. Obviously, wed stayed out much later than planned and went to bed without any dinner, like naughty schoolchildren in an old fairy tale.