Yesterday evening I bought some posh honey and Maple syrup to take along to pancake day at Claremont in Islington because I can and do. I came out of Tesco and mused that the beggars must go somewhere when it’s dark. Wrong I was for there sitting on his cardboard patch in the shadow behind the 55 bus stop was a young man. I zipped open my shoulder purse and knew I hadn’t a sou . A pound is not enough for a cuppa. Two pound may do the trick though. I’d just missed the bus and decided I wouldn’t give the note yet because I’d be embarrassed. Remember I didn’t have any coins. I know it’s illegal to give beggars money but in my book…there but for fortune.
I gripped my Tesco bag of honey, syrup and the reduced mushrooms and parsley. My Halal unboned shoulder lamb sat cold on my leg and I saw myself thanking the Tesco butcher for throwing in an extra cube because he took a shine to me. Let me digress and tell you he has raven black shoulder length hair and a Spanish smile. His meat is the best unlike the packaged cubed beef which has no blood and reduces to pea size on cooking. And yes I did go into the camel shop opposite and wondered how a place can stink of air-freshener disguising sordid meat. Mind you. it is a popular shop so I must have sensitive nasal glands.
I pretended I was looking at the bus shelter and spied the beggar still there when lo and behold he took out his phone under his lapel and the screen light betrayed him. I said to myself like the nan in Catherine Tait’s sketches that his phone was better than mine and surmised indignantly like a Farage mistress that he must charge it somewhere and that and that and that. Ah the charity within my soul can make you ache. My conscience was clear and the fiver was folded back into my bus pass holder. Don’t judge me reader. In UK 2017 beggars are two a penny. Some woman sitting on her backside on a cold cold paving stone with neither a wail in her voice nor a cup in her hand will be offered by me a pack of sanitary pads as tampons are considered invasive by groups in my neighbourhood. She will accept and I will feel like the best feminist in the free world for the time it takes to carry my loads to the bus stop around the corner.
At Christmas having been given a fiver change in Tesco and having thought it was akin to Monopoly money and what with it being the season I gave it to another bus stop sitter. The young man jumped up and asked me “Are you sure?” He was most surprised I think to be thought of as worthy of a note.
I remember in the nineties checking with the beggar with his dog if he were vegetarian otherwise he’d be getting given by the hand of this bountiful queen the pork pie for his daily bread. My friend offered some wrapped food to a beggar outside Iceland and he went crazy saying he didn’t want food but money. She said it must be for drugs. Anything to get through a life of misery, love.
Juliet’s Free from Gluten artisan bakery has opened yesterday where old Robertsons the Bakers was on Lea Bridge Road by Peterborough Road. All around me people are turning to gluten free and lactose free and I can’t wait for a pancake.
This year, Matthew, I shall be baking Simnel Cake for Mothers Day. Beggars beware!