What have I become…?1
January 18, 2016 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column, Littlehampton Gazette January 14th.
SHE is in her doorway opposite the Littlehampton cafe where I am taking my morning Americano. She sits on cardboard, a rubber mat with a floral cushion and is wrapped in an old red blanket, warm in her knitted tights and woolly hat, small head buried deep in her mock fur hooded parka her back-pack close to hand. She is quite young. She rolls a cigarette, sips from her Coke bottle and occasionally checks her mobile phone. Now and then an early morning shopper pauses briefly, bends down and hands her some change or a five pound note and says hello. She looks up at them, her lips read a thank you and form a sad smile. Her benefactors are mostly elderly or middle aged women, the young hardly notice her in their passing, if they do it is out of curiosity rather than real concern. An old man in green Wellington boots several sizes too large for him pauses in front of her, checks a handful of loose change, he counts his money thinks, and then pockets it and moves on. She does not make eye contact with passers-by. An elderly lady wearing a rain hat places some money beside her but she is too busy with her Rizzla to acknowledge the gift. It is raining and the precinct is wet. I finish my coffee and move on wondering what is she thinking sitting there, head down watching the legs passing her by? Is she thinking, ‘what have I become?’ I feel I should give her something but I always have this worry I am being conned and knowing this, I ask myself, what have I become?
SADDENED by the news of the passing of David Bowie. Back in the day I used to go to mime classes run by he and Lindsay Kemp in Covent Garden and on occasion hauled them and their props to out of the way gigs in my old green Triumph Herald. One time in Barnet there were no more than half a dozen puzzled elderly people in the audience but neither performer seemed perturbed by that fact. With regards to my efforts at mime, David seemed a gentle, encouraging friendly young man but Lindsay said I had the grace of camel. Those really were the days, my friends.
I don’t mind being conned but I never want to support someone’s addiction by giving cash – so I try to give food instead.