The thing that sparked it off was a brief incident in a subway in Sunderland when a gentleman of the street wondered if I could ‘spare’ him a few pounds in order to top-up his mobile phone.
I ask you. Where did he charge it?
Don’t even ask me about the absurd script I began writing for a pilot episode of a television show entitled ‘HoboCop’. The central character had amazing investigative skills based on his experience of rummaging through bins and astounding observational and surveillance techniques – no-one pays any attention to a tramp. He hid lock-picks in his beard. The young ‘maverick cop’ type he teamed-up with had a long-lost father and everything – could it be HoboCop himself? I actually gave this some thought.
The other morning I walk to my office past the sleeping homeless person who makes his night-time abode in a sheltered area across the street from my staff entrance. As ever I am irrationally narked about the fact that he is enjoying a lie-in when I have to be at work. Upon reflection one presumes that if he did have a job to go to he would be up by now. And would have somewhere to live.
Another tramp approaches him. Wearing a Santa hat.
Honestly. Where did he get that?
They have a chat about something or other. Private investigation techniques probably.
I pause outside the door to my office to finish my cigarette. Professional Wendy is there, doing the same.
Professional Wendy: Morning.
Me: Fuck off will you.
Some silence. I’m not a morning person.
PW: Did you see that tramp?
He is 'used to me' and doesn't realise that I am 'not joking'.
Me: [sigh] Which one?
Me: Yes. But I don’t actually think it was Santa.
PW: How do you know?
Me: Christ. Are you still stoned?
PW: Think about it. He's UNEMPLOYED three-hundred-and-sixty-four days of the year. And the ONE day he works he doesn’t get PAID FOR! That COULD BE HIM!
We both stare at the strangely jolly gentleman with the white beard spreading a bit of goodwill with his fellow homeless folk whilst wearing his Santa hat.
Me: Mmm. So far as I know he doesn’t have kids. It’s not like he’d get Housing Benefit. Not on his income. Or Family Tax credit. He must me on his bones.
PW: [Very excited] Oh my God! That's why he always insists upon sherry! THE TRAMPS FUCKING LOVE THEIR FORTIFIED WINE! THEY LIVE OFF IT! IT ALL MAKES SENSE!
Me: Lay off the green. See you later.