Wednesday, 24 July 2013
AFTERMATH: The World Owes Me £2
Hi, thanks for dropping by again. The first 22 episodes of this blog (from Jan to May 2013) are the text of my book, 'How To Become A Crack Addict', which you can buy on amazon if you do that kind of thing. After that point, it's the almost-daily musings of me, your faithful author, and local antihero, so happy reading...
NORMA WANTS £2
It's a blistering hot day here on Goldhawk Road, which means you're more likely to get begged at or mugged, or both, if the first doesn't work. As a local dignitary, it's hard getting past the market without being assailed in some form or another. Because it's hot, you can sit on the pavement with impunity, and see if you can bleed a few quid out of those who come and go. I am so stoical and heroical that I, now a venerable ex-user, have to tread a line between identification and non-judgemental sympathy whenever I hear the cry, 'Yo, B, gimme some change.' One of my favourite accosters is Norma, bloated and furious, can in hand, and often to be found by the fruit-stall.
A year or so ago, it was a quid she wanted, but now it's gone up to two, which is in no sense in line with inflation. I nearly always say I don't have it, sometimes because I haven't, but mostly cos I don't really like her, and anyway, it would surely only go on another can of fizzy petrol, or possibly a can of lighter-fuel to clamp down on and inhale every five or ten minutes, until a better offer comes along.
But Norma gets very angry when I deny her, however polite I am. 'I know you've got money, y'bastard,' she explains, 'I just saw you come out of Tesco.' 'Yes, I had to leave Tesco because I had no money,' I might rejoinder. 'You get more money than I do,' she says, aware, as she has been for a while, that I receive a higher band of disability benefit than her, despite her best efforts to appear mentaller and more decrepit than she actually is.
So I swan by, moneyed, gloating inside that I now have a slightly smaller overdraft than I had when I was using, with her, or whoever I happened to stumble on, or be stumbled on by, at any given time. Monstrous the curses that spill from her slack'n'flaky lips as I saunter by with a secret sovereign in my chinos. Once she even tapped my pockets to see if they rattled, and, when they did, she almost went purple, but I assured her falsely that what she heard was the jangling of my keys, but she thankfully fell short of delving in, where she would have found at least £3.40, and maybe a note.
Sometimes, there might even be a secondary scavenger, a kind of para-parasite, hoping to feed off what meagre crumbs Norma might drop, not knowing that those bulbous clutches only unclench when there's something coming straight back in. But the sidekick might back up her claim, or even undercut it, hoping I might perhaps have £1.50, even just a quid, to proffer it. It is always tempting to throw a coin into the air and watch them scramble for it, scratching and clawing each other to death in a battle to snatch the guinea - this would not only mean one less unfortunate on our streets, but also keep the economy ticking over in these times of tight belts.
And that is all I have to say today.