There are many side-effects of economic predations; higher prices especially for luxury goods and services, cutting back on non-essentials whilst shopping around for essentials. There’s also more litter on the streets (especially of the beer can/alcopop bottle variety), shorter queues in sammich shops and the subject of today’s whine, beggars.

It used to be the thing when you heard the words “excuse me” on the street, it was because someone was lost and required directions, they had noticed you’d dropped your gloves or if a clipboard was in operation, they were doing direct market research. Nowadays, the words “excuse me” tend to lead to the sense that the heart sags in the chest as the next words are “have you got a few moments” (though the embroidered jackets are a clue to intent) or “do you have…”

During today’s Vauxhall wander, there seemed to be a string of them on Kennington Lane but these weren’t the normal dishevelled alcoholics who occasionally stay at the shelter up the road. These ones were far better dressed and articulate which forced the question of what their angle was. Interestingly enough though, it’s the other down-and-outs who don’t stop to harass you on the street, not least because they’re getting the assistance they require from the shelters.

There used to be some guy in Stratford at the Chobham Road bus stop who’d target people getting off the bus asking for 50p – always 50p. He’d bother you for about a month and then disappear before returning about six months later to pull exactly the same thing. Again, another questionable action as he’d return the next day in a different set of relatively clean clothes (and I doubt he was fishing out the donations in the clothing recycler). So why was he begging? Boredom? Drug/Alcohol Money? Unemployed? Unemployable?

It’s like that Lily Savage “Paying the Rent” remark towards the end of the show where he talks about giving money to genuine homeless people as opposed to the piss-takers who effectively are workshy bastards who are able to elicit enough donations in a day so as not to enjoy meaningful employment. The numbers of people asking for cash on the streets is increasing and I’m not convinced that these are genuine cases.

Back in the mid 1990s when the Big Issue was making a concentrated push to broaden its sales and help the genuine cases, there seemed to be a one on every corner, or at least in Nottingham City Centre where I was at the time. Walking from one end of the city centre to the other became a challenge to determine a route which would bypass as many vendors as possible as some of them could get quite stroppy when you didn’t buy them. I also think there’s the English thing about not engaging with people you don’t have business with. I was re-reading the Sue Townsend essay on “Why I Love England” yesterday (it was part of the Mole collection on iBooks) and she mentions that she loves England as it’s not encouraged that we make conversation with strangers on a regular basis – unless we’re on public transport which has broken down in which case we’re quite happy to trade life stories with those around us.

Perhaps that’s at the core of my antipathy towards beggars – I don’t want to be disturbed whilst going about my business. Certainly I walk around the city listening to iPhone music which is in part calculated to deter people. And I don’t answer the phone from unknown sources as chances are people are trying to sell me a product or service I have no interest in. But this is unhealthy – it means I constantly want to engage with the world on MY terms and MY conditions. It fosters an unhealthy attitude which does little to facilitate interpersonal relationships.

And they say I’m no good at analysis…

Did something very bad last night – started (yet) another game of Sid Meier’s Pirates having looked at the general strategy guide on gamefaqs, not least because I wanted to read a bit more about attacking towns, something I haven’t really done. Tried to start the game as a Dutch Privateer to allow maximum flexibility in who I attack and kill. Slipped up really early in the bloody game after losing a Brigantine to a French Smuggler though it was more like a lucky shot which depleted the entire hull from 100% to 0%, sinking the friggin’ ship. Fortunately I went and captured said vessel which was already tarted up several levels. I also built up a fleet of 3 Brigantines and a Frigate and pounded on several Caribbean towns plundering them rotten. Alas it was 2.25am before I noticed the time and rushed off to bed. Honestly felt like ringing in sick just to carry on – it’s been some time since I chucked a sickie for a video game day (not that I have a shortage of annual leave).

Laptop wasn’t ready for collection today according to a text message I received which is probably a good thing as I don’t fancy lugging it about. But it will be ready tomorrow so if I can motivate myself, I’ll try and collect it before work. This has the added benefit of me being more docile in the mornings so that if I’ve been lied to and the wretched machine remains kaput, I won’t cause too much of a scene and won’t be escorted from Westfield by London’s finest.

And in closing, I just wanted to draw attention to the Maybe Tomorrow (The Littlest Hobo themesong) remix I heard on Youtube this morning. Almost puts me in mind of DJ Tiesto. Almost.

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