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This is a question Tramps

Tramps, burn-outs and the homeless insane all go to making life that little bit more interesting.
Gather around the burning oil-drum and tell us your hobo-tales.

suggested by kaol

(, Thu 2 Jul 2009, 15:47)
Pages: Latest, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, ... 1

This question is now closed.

Please QOTW
can you spare some funnies for a poor guy down on his luck? He's sat through days and days of the sort of shit magazine stories you see on local BBC news, and now could really do with something funny to while away the time at work.
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 9:45, 12 replies)
I knew a hobo once - probably saw him once or twice a week back in the 80's. He was quite little, but had big ears that stuck out.

Thing is despite him being a hobo he spent his life padding around helping others.

One day I said to him, why don't you stick around? Make a home for yourself...

His reply "There's a voice that keeps on calling me. Down the road is where I'll always be..."

(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 9:27, 4 replies)
I live in London, so therefore see a number of the down and outs that fit the typical stereotype of hobo, one of the guys I see on the odd occasion is pretty weird. I can’t really call this bloke a proper tramp as he always looks quite clean, despite living in a box the size of a wardrobe that was stolen from the local cop shop – it still has the police signs on it for gods sake, and we know that its his as he takes the thing everywhere with him. According to some people he has been homeless after some problems with his family and friends.

To say that he can be eccentric at times would be an understatement. I have seen him around my estate a few times inserting mumbo jumbo words into normal sentences. The problem is he’s not talking to himself he is usually accompanied by someone (my guess is a care worker of sorts). So far I have seen him being followed round by three different type of care worker, always going along with his made up stories (must be part of the job description or something). The care workers also seem to be pretty decent looking (well the first two I saw him with anyway, the latest one was a bit too old for my taste.

Anywhoo this bloke (I don’t know his name but my guess he was a GP at one point due to his nickname) will always be seen round town causing all kinds of mayhem and after the trouble dies down he hides in his box and buggers off somewhere else.

I had better get off it looks like the Daleks are back again so my vagrant friend (aka the doctor) will be here soon.
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 9:15, 3 replies)
2003 was the end of my first year at Coventry University, in halls, happy memories of good times and top people. Especially our hulking, rugby playing, beer monster of a halls friend, Gav. Gav posessed many qualities of a good tramp and many good qualities of being generally massive.

Now it was not uncommon for Gav, being of the large rugby playing variety, to get himself into many situations that would require a degree of explanation to the lay person. One of the girls in our end of the halls decides to take a hard earned bath, the door appears to be locked so she waits patiently. On one of my many daily stumbles we strike up conversation in the corridor which leads to her saying, "Who the fuck is in the bath, they are taking fucking ages" With all the usual girls out at lectures and baths being a lot of hassle for such unmotivated men we come to the conclusion that Gav had again turned tramp and fallen asleep in the bath after locking himself out of his room.

Battering on the door begins to wake the slumbering beast of Gav, swearing and petty name calling (Gav you trampy nobber was my favourite) being our chief tools at hand. Another halls friend pokes his head out the door to politely enquire "fucking stop that bastard racket will you!?" He agrees to help us try and wake Gav, as there is a chance he could have left the tap running, after all, it was Gav. More shouting, swearing and name calling but with no avail.

A small crowd is now gathering to help us in our herculean feat of waking Gav, more heads poking out of doors.
-"what in the fuck are you all doing!!?"
-"For fuck's sake, we are trying to get Gav out of the bathro... GAV!!?? What the fuck are you doing out here"
-"Trying to bastard well sleep".
-"Well give us a hand getting you out of the bathroom"
-"that makes no sense you idiot, but alright if it will shut everybody up"

Gav at first tries diplomacy, which involves him launching his 18 stone frame at the door in a feast of splintering, door obliterating pwnage.

The actual tramp who had been sleeping in our bathroom for the past 4 days (showers were in separate individual cubicles, were not that mingin') looked like a rabbit in headlights as what seemed like a lynch mob was gathered outside and an 18 stone rugby player careened through the door and into some bathroom shelves. "Lerruz jus' get me stuff from the fridge would yerz and ah'll fuck off". His fridge contents had consisted of 3 cans of Carly Spesh, which again we had attributed ownership to Gav.

Retiring to the kitchen for breakfast and discussing the brilliance of the tramp's idea Gav pipes up.
-"you know guys you really ought to think more of me, I mean this trampy shit goes to far sometimes"
-"errr Gav"
-"you are drinking a bottle of Frosty Jack at 10:45 on a tuesday morning"
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 8:19, 2 replies)
I wasn't expecting that.
Despite the prevalent image of Japan being a squeaky clean utopia of clean-shaven, impeccably-dressed men and women marching in neat rows and columns to and from their office jobs at the space robot construction companies every day, in all metropolitan areas you will inevitably see the shanty towns of cardboard and blue tarpaulin. Go to any train station and you'll see human beings slumped in doorways and alcoves, most unconscious due to the usual forms of chemical enhancement. Some are sitting cross-legged on the ground moaning at no one in particular. These are the homeless that are easy to spot.

However, there are a few that you never suspect of being those whom have fallen through the cracks, until it is far too late.

A few years back I was standing outside Shibuya Station -- one of the busiest, hysterically crowded mass-transit facilities in the entire solar system -- on a Tuesday morning in full businessman suited regalia, briefcase in hand, waiting for a coworker to show up before heading to a meeting with a client. I'm standing there amongst an endless sea of flowing humanity, in and out of the station and across the intersection opposite the front gates. Off to the side was a little waiting area with a fountain where you might expect a multitude of pigeons and various homeless people to congregate.

Presently I saw a middle-aged lady sitting on the marble facade of the fountain, calmly reading a tabloid newspaper. Her clothing, while weathered, didn't scream "tramp!" at me, and neither did her demeanor. She wasn't wobbly drunk, nor was she having animated conversations with alien beings from the planet Zoombak. She was just sitting there, reading a paper. There were no other people in the immediate vicinity. Just this one lady and her paper.

And then, as I was looking in her general direction, she looked up from her paper, and leaned a bit over to one side as if to peer at something on the ground.

At which point, without any warning, without any pre-heave, without any signal whatsoever, she proceeded to explode forth with the longest, most horribly sickening Mr. Creosote-style projectile vomit I have ever seen. Making a noise that sounded very much like RAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGH, she managed to achieve a spew distance reaching nearly five feet.

Keep in mind that throughout all this, there are hundreds and hundreds of people behind me walking to and fro, minding their own business, no one stopping or even looking in the direction of Mt. Vesuvius over there on the water fountain. It was just her, and me. A decidedly odd personal moment between us.

When she finished her nuclear vomitocaust, she slowly sat back upright again, and turned to the next page of her newspaper. Nobody acted as if anything out of the ordinary had occurred.

To this day I wonder if she was even a homeless person at all.
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 8:19, Reply)
He takes requests apparently.
This has probably already been mentioned, but here goes...

There's a tramp who frequents Liverpool City Centre with his guitar.

Not too uncommon that is it?

Well this guys' guitar not only has no strings, it's made of cardboard.

He takes requests and then air (sort of) guitars' his way into your heart with his commitment and enthusiastic energy.

My sister stop giving him money when he wouldn't "play" a Modest Mouse song by the name of All Night Diner.
Apparently he didn't know it and she didn't consider this to be acceptable excuse.

Oh well.

Anyone know if he's still around?
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 8:03, 4 replies)
A few years ago I witnessed 2 tramps fighting over a five pound note, winner takes all. 1 of the tramps was aggrieved that the other had been given £5 by a passer by so he fought him for it. The sad thing about this story was that a crown gathered and egged them on, laughing and cheering. A simpler thing and most certainly kinder solution would have been to give the other tramp some money.
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 6:15, 1 reply)
So there I was...
In Underground Atlanta with some mates. We were having a great time hanging out, people watching, looking at various over-priced shit, the works. Well, as you see in these places, there were beggars. Not many, mind you, but a few. I have a strict policy never to give these kind of people money, though I do try to help them how I can. So when a nice woman approached me in her torn clothes saying she was thirsty, who was I to refuse? I took her to the nearby smoothie shop and bought her a fruit smoothie.

She was so overcome with gratitude that she planted a big kiss on my cheek, and walked away. As she left, I watched to see if she really wanted the smoothie, or just was looking for cash. Turns out, she did what I expected: she dumped the smoothie in the trash. Then she did something I didn't expect. She removed "her" wig and turned around. I had just been kissed by a tranny.
(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 4:16, 2 replies)
Tramps, illegal raves, axes, coppers, goths, a bloke who'd missed his train and a free breakfast.
Me and my mates had attended an anti-war protest in Manchester a few years ago, it was very nice, peaceful and organised affair… The police were cool, the protestors were cool…. T’was a great day…

Anyhoo, after the protest had finished we sauntered off to a few pubs and had a few scoops and debated whether to get the last train home or stay in Manchester and get pissed. We decided (sensibly) that the latter option was the better one.

So we wandered across the city through a small park in the centre looking for a nightclub. As we passed through we could hear loud techno music being played and we noticed a large converted bus was parked up, a generator had been set up and some one was DJ’ing.

So we nip over and we notice that a loud crowd of assorted types were pretty much raving in Manchester city centre.
The group consisted of:

The bus owners: A six foot seven, dreadlocked geezer in a kilt, his lovely missus, and a few of their friends. They had driven up from Cornwall for the protests and decided to make the best of it.

The rest of the crowd consisted of:

A few protestors, some goths, also some skater kids, some chav kids, some punks, a bloke in suit who’d missed his train and three homeless guys.

But despite the rather obscure mix of people, this actually turned out to be a great, free outdoor/inner city rave, especially because we all knew this was breaking the law but nobody really gave a shiny shite. We got chatting to everyone and despite the cultural boundaries we all had a ruddy good time….
Until six copper suddenly ran over to us, very angry and quite possibly looking to arrest who ever it was who had set up the rig.
That is until the large braveheart looking guy approached them (towering over them all) and politely informed them that it was he who’d set it up and that yes, he will turn off the music, if the police could suggest somewhere that he could continue his antics.

I think we were lucky, one of the coppers just said ‘anywhere, just not in the city fucking centre’ and then a radio call came through and the coppers legged it.

Okay, so we basically had permission off the police and the braveheart bloke told us all to jump in his van. So, the Goths, the punks, the skaters, the chavs, the protestors, the tramps, the bloke in a suit who had missed his train and us guys got into his converted library bus and the tramps told us they knew of a good field on the outskirts of Manchester.
Sure enough they were right. Except a large padlocked gate prevented us from entering the field with his bus, leaving the braveheart guy with little choice but to take an axe to the padlock and smash it open…. To a loud cheer from us all.

The field already had a bonfire roaring, and many more homeless people were sat in the tents. The Braveheart guy and his missus rummaged in their bus and pulled out some pots and pans and got some food on the go and gave it all to the homeless.
He and missus then rolled up about five or six joints, set up the rig and blasted out some drum and bass tunes and then proceeded to get everybody stoned….

We all partied through the night, warm, happy and loving this act of complete randomness, as were where technically surrounded by complete strangers but we all made the very best of it.

Eventually the sun came up, people started to drift off and the few that remained all decided that breakfast was in order. So we jumped back in the van and as we were driving back into the city, one of the homeless guys told us all ‘that breakfast was on him’… and he gave braveheart guy some directions and sure enough we finally stopped at a donation centre.

The homeless guy led us inside and told the workers that we were his friends and we all got given free fry up, a cup of coffee and a place to sit. Now some of you stuck up types might cringe at the very thought of dining with the down and outs of Manchester, but it was something very different for me. They had returned the favour, and that in itself was all they could offer, but it was a hearty meal and we were eternally grateful.

We finally left, after a few of us had a bit of a whip-round and gave the three homeless guys whatever change we had left. The Braveheart guy and his missus donated the rest of the weed to the three guys and we eventually all went home.

I like to think that the homeless guys had a genuinely great time, I loved the fact the carefree attitudes of a couple of people from Cornwall turned a potentially boring night into a randomly beautiful act of human kindness. And I also like to believe the bloke in the suit finally got his train home (and hopefully still thinks of this event as much as I do).

It made me realise that at the end of the day, no matter where you are from, or what occupation or opinion you have, or what clothes you wear or how you style your hair or whether you live in a tent or a mansion…. We are all the same, we all appreciate human kindness, a fire, a meal and a smoke.

(, Tue 7 Jul 2009, 0:43, 8 replies)
No funnies, no apology. Just plain sad.

Many moons ago when piglet was still being incubated, me and my six months pregnant wife were walking through the town centre when we came across a filthy young man sitting on a blanket. He had his hands out and his head lowered, lifting it only occasionally to direct a beseeching glare on a passer-by. As I looked into his eyes I caught this attention and he looked at me. Then through me. I suddenly understood what a thousand-yard stare looked like. Looking straight at him I opened my wallet and give him my last fiver and walked away.
Curious as to the reason behind my strange burst of generosity (I am known as careful by my Scottish friends) my wife asked why I had done it. So I told her his story.

Long ago in what feels like a different life I used to be a playscheme leader in some pretty rough areas. Attending one of these was a young lad of about 12 who was always fighting. Always. The other kids would wind him up just to see him fight. And he never backed down once, not ever, even in the face of some barely sentient knuckle-dragger who would pound him senseless. But this ginger haired freckly kid had one shining light: His Sister. She was a few years older than him and looked after him and the other kids in his family, he worshipped her as the mother he didn’t really have. He wasn’t the brightest diode on the circuit board but he was capable of following instructions and as stated before, an unyielding fighter. So as soon as he was able he joined the Army.

At this point I have no idea what happened but he went off the rails. His reaction to initial training was that everyone was bullying him, being ginger\freckly probably marked him out and knowing the way he reacted to physical pressure I can only presume he continued to react with his usual flair. Strangely he made it through training and came out as an infantryman. He lasted another two years before being discharged on medical (mental) grounds. He wasn’t very good on his own so his sister took him in and helped him look after himself. He became involved in petty crime but was cunning enough to keep himself out of bother. Then his sister met her husband.

After a whirlwind romance she became pregnant with the first of her three kids and they were married. Kid never got on with his brother-in-law. He never trusted him and would often end up leaving the house before he did violence on the prick (for prick he was, I knew the lad at school and he was a cunt of the highest order). Unfortunately during one of these periods Prick decide that he wanted to be re-housed by the council and firebombed his own home. With his wife and kids inside. They burned to death and he was sent to jail.

When Kid returned he was inconsolable and wandered the streets howling his grief like a madman. He had lost the only good thing he had ever had in his young life (he was still only 23 at this point). He was interned for treatment at a local mental hospital but it didn’t take and he eventually walked out one day and disappeared. Until I saw him on his blanket. I knew I couldn’t help him in any real sense, no-one could. So I gave him some money and hoped he would spend it on something that would help him forget for a while., he always knew how and where to get fed. I’ve never seen him again (cliché? Maybe) but hope he’s found peace, I doubt it’s in this world though.

Peace to you Kid, wherever you are.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 23:41, 4 replies)
Tramp asked you for cash?
Chances are, they're not homeless. In London, with its population of 7.5 million people there are less than 150 people who are street homeless.

Don't believe me? Check the statistics for yourself:

If you ever find yourself homeless the help that is available for you is simply staggering. This is my step-by-step guide to getting yourself back on your feet.

1. Contact Shelter (0808 800 4444) who will give you a list of hostels and homeless shelters.

2. Find a walk-in hostel. A lot of these (for example St. Mungos) offer a lot more than accommodation. Addicted to drugs or alcohol? The hostel can refer you to addictions services and from there you can find yourself in a 6 month residential rehab placement within a year. Mentally ill? The hostel can refer you to a community mental health team.

3. From the hostel, you should approach the housing association. Sadly, these bureaucratic fuckwits may not give a shit about your plight. However, should you make an impression you could expect to be housed within a month. Seriously, it can be that quick.

4. Whatever the outcome of the housing association meeting, register with a GP. Again, they can link you in with mental health or addiction services should you need it. More importantly, some GPs have benefits advisors who will visit the surgery to sort your finances out and help you to start looking for a job.

5. Should you find yourself in hospital, bizarrely you've struck gold. We cannot discharge you if you're homeless and the NHS will put massive pressure on the housing association to find you somewhere to live. If you have a mental illness, we will put you up in a bed & breakfast at taxpayer's expense until a home becomes available.

6. Homeless through violence? Find yourself a refuge at www.refuge.org.uk where you are guaranteed to be safe. The refuge staff will not give out your details to anybody, not even doctors.

With all of this help available there is no excuse at all to be out on the street begging for cash. I have been approached by beggars for whom I have personally sorted out accommodation, benefits, free travel and help set up job interviews. I know that they have a roof over their head because I've seen it for myself and this sort of behaviour, frankly, pisses me off.

Give help not change to beggars.

***EDIT - My maths is shocking and yes there are more than 150 people sleeping rough in London. But not much more. It's still a startling statistic.***
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 23:32, 5 replies)
tramp on Euston Road
just before you get to Euston Square tube..

He has a sign that says, need money, don't do drugs, help please..

I gave him some drugs
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 23:19, 4 replies)
Visitors to Austin, Texas are frequently told to keep an eye out for the resident famous cross-dressing hobo, Leslie.

Wikipedia article here

I've actually met him in a bar once - I asked him if it was true that his fame led him to be given far more than the usual hobo beggings, including newspaper interviews, radio spots, and even a fancy house in the hills he house-sat for a few months. He imparted his words of wisdom, replying "everything I got, I earned." Then he sauntered off in his leopard-print miniskirt, leather jacket and full beard and got himself another beer. I don't know what that means, but damn if I wasn't proud I talked with a celebrity!
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 22:38, Reply)
I once saw a hobo with a sign that said "kick me in the nuts for a dollar"
...best twenty dollars I ever spent.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:46, 1 reply)
A hobo in the family
My sister is the coolest person I know.

When I was still in high school, my sister decided to drop everything and hobo around the northeast for a year. With nothing but her boyfriend, a backpack and the clothes she could carry, she hitchhiked and train-hopped and slept in doorways and street corners and dumpster-dived and spanged for food and learned the absolute terror of knowing that your very existence depends on the kindness of complete strangers. She saw the entire spectrum of human charity, from the hippies in Boston who taught her how to weave hemp jewelry so she could sell them in their festival booth to the thousands of people who saw her, hungry, tired and dirty and spit on her, insulted her and even assaulted her for asking for a means to survive.

She returned a year after she'd left, 20 pounds lighter, a great deal more tan and with a lifetime of experience leaving her with both an optimistic and incredibly jaded view of humanity.

Now when I'm accosted on the street by the fiftieth beggar that day, instead of putting my hand in my pockets to still the jingling of change or pretending I didn't hear, I give a quarter or a cigarette or a bit of whatever I'm eating, because that hobo is someone's sister or brother, someone's son or daughter, and that bit I give which means so little to me could mean everything to them.

[EDIT - having read through a few more of the previous pages, I'd like to clarify that this isn't an attempt to guilt people into giving hobos money or feel bad about making fun of them - this is just my personal perspective. Also, hobos who keep asking after you've already told them you have no change (no, really, stop asking) annoy the crap out of me.]
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:43, Reply)
Cash Machines
I'm not typically known for my compassion, but one thing that really grinds my gears is, well, two things that really grind my gears are:

1. tramps that sit at cash machines. This is not fair-play. So many times have I seen young girls scared shitless and giving the mumbling, gurning hobo some money just so he will leave them alone while they try to get some money and get through the night un-assaulted.

2. "Got any spare change, mate?" Now then. "Spare change"? Isn't having "spare" change kind of like admitting that you earn too much? There are no things in your life for which that money could be put to better use? There are no things in the world that you can think of that are more pressing a need for this extra money you seem to have lying about? You have no debt, your mortgage is paid off, you don't use credit cards, your elderly mother is in a paid-up, expensive nursing home, your children are all fully funded and not having to work through Uni, and now, you, my hobo-friend, have finally made it to the front of my payroll. Instead of quitting my job, that I clearly don't need, since I have now found myself with spare money, I will GIVE you my money.

Easy now.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:32, Reply)
Got me...
Once saw a hobo with a sign that said "bet you a dollar you'll read this sign." So I did. S'only fair.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:25, Reply)
Not Very Funny, But Sadly True
I used to live with a mate in Manchester City Centre. We lived off Oxford Road in one of the cube-shaped apartments.

After a typical night out the road home was paved with what I came to call, "the pseudo-homeless". As we negotiated our way into Monsoon's (god rest its artery-clogging soul), they were everywhere - the whole variety show; stinky-dude, aggressive-dude, glum-dude, pissed-dude, change-for-a-cup-of-tea-dude, change-for-the-last-bus-dude..

That night, we got into a debate about my "lack of heart" versus his naivety about the pseudo-homeless. A gauntlet was laid down:

"Go and get a pasty from the Spar and give it to that pseudo-homeless bell-end sat over there. See what happens."

My mate, convinced he couldn't lose this one, skipped in and returned with a Ginster's pasty.

As he made his way over to the pseud, time slowed and I could hear classical music - it was like the docking scene in 2001: A Space Oddity. Their paths were set to cross and a well-meaning, yet naive, young man was about to feed a homeless tramp out of little more than compassion and the desire to win a bet.

"What the FUCK am I supposed to do with that, dickhead? Give me some money or PISS OFF".
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:24, Reply)
Walked past a tramp in Newbury a while a go with a benson on the go, he goes 'spare us a fag?'

Me: sorry i dont smoke

(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 21:12, Reply)
When I was stumbling home from a club in Exeter I came across two homeless people in the high street sitting in difference shop doorways.

One was quietly vomiting a chalky substance out of his mouth and his dog was eating it from the floor in front of him and from his beard and mouth. The other was playing (quite well actually) No Woman No Cry by my main man Bob.

I gave a quid to the busker. 'Oi!' shouted the vomiting man, in between vomits, 'Where's my money?'

'Dog ate it'. I replied as wittily as I could manage. My entourage were disgusted with me and gave money to the vomiting dude. I was shunned for my attitude.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 20:56, 1 reply)
Me and the ex-Missus went on a little tour of the south last year and ended up in Bournemouth towards the end of the trek.

We were having a cracking time touring the bars in the afternoon and decided to go for an Italian for a quick bite to eat and to sober up a little.

Anyway, we ordered the food and bloody nice it was too, unfortunately the pizza she ordered was way to big for her so we got a doggy bag for her to eat later, it came out in one of those large boxes that you get from the delivery people and it was then that we thought 'we can't carry that around all night' so when we were walking down the road we saw two homeless people asking for change.

We decided to give them the leftovers (there was still over half left and it was huge!) we gave them the box saying Liz couldn't manage it and if they wanted it they were welcome to it but we hadn't got any change, so that was all we could give them, they were really chuffed that we'd been so thoughtful and thanked us for being so generous.

We walked off and within 5 seconds heard cries of 'RESULT' 'Smoked Salmon and Mozzarella' 'Thanks guys, it's been years, we were expecting a Margarita'.

I just wish we did have some change to give them too, we were going too but they weren't there on our way back later.

So if you got a (fucking) expensive half a pizza last year, I hope you enjoyed it and if you're reading this then it means you could be getting back on your feet, Good luck.

(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 20:04, 1 reply)
tramps get my goat.

I bought a McDonalds cheeseburger for a tramp.

"I don't eat processed cheese mate, can you get us a plain one?"
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 19:35, Reply)
What did the slug say to the snail?

Big Issue?
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 18:21, 2 replies)
Not all tramps are insane
Dateline: East London, early 2003

I was walking home in an odd kind of mood. I'd just been attending a strip establishment in Shoreditch, accidentally on purpose turning up on the same evening as the girlfriend of a mate was one of the performers. She knew that I knew what she did, as did he, and it was no big deal really, however the temptation to turn up and stare at her fanny was too much to resist. Plus she moved to America in her other career and now is on a top-rated TV show every week, so I have a great memory to call to mind whenever I see her.

Anyway, back on topic. Wandering back towards the station, full of beer and with my head full of all manner of thoughts about this lady friend I passed by a filling station which had a young lady sat on a blanket outside begging for change. She smiled at me as we made eye contact but I breezed past without stopping.

20 seconds later I did stop. I'd just had a great evening, fulfilling a long standing ambition to see a certain friend naked in a social context, and here was this girl (who must have been no more than about 25) with a life infinitely shitter than mine, still able to flash me a smile and make me feel good about myself. Spotting a chip shop nearby, I bought the largest portion of fish and chips they could manage and headed back to where she was still holding out her battered cup.

I sat down next to her and opened up the package, inviting her to share the feast if she told me her story. In between shovelling huge handfuls of food into her mouth in a manner which was quite heartbreaking, she told me how she had been thrown out by her mother, sectioned twice and now was reduced to living on the streets, trapped in the eternal poverty cycle of not being able to get a job without an address and vice versa. She didn't do drugs, didn't drink and was hopeful that somehow she would find a way out, but in the meantime she was left begging for change and hoping that a charity would spot her and get her a place in a hostel.

She even apologised for stealing virtually all of what she assumed was my supper, but I assured her that I would just get another for myself later. I thanked her for the company, gave her my last fiver and breezed off into the night after receiving a kiss on the cheek from her.

I've no idea what happened to her, or indeed what possessed me to suddenly be nice to the kind of person I'd normally spend my time stepping over as they camped underneath the cash machine. The warm glow I had for the next 24 hours somehow made it all worthwhile.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 17:53, 1 reply)
Bending the rules a tad
Now this is by far a stretch of the topic this week but it fits in with people who look a little bit trampy and flog weird stuff on the streets.

Falmouth, Cornwall, 2005. I was walking down the busy market street that ran along the coastline with the ex in tow. We walked past a couple of hippies/students selling some home made gear they managed to knit/sew, the girl said politely to us "Bag? Scarf?" as we passed and we politely replied "No thanks" with a smile.

What happened next restored my faith in humanity. The girl's fella, whilst this little epic was occurring, was eating a bag of Walkers and after we declined their trade he held the bag forward, mouth half full of crisps, and said "Crisp?".

We were taken aback by this generous offer and proceeded to take a crisp each then we all smiled at each other and went about our days.

In a world where most people would mutter "Fuck off then bell-end" under their breath this was a welcomed change.

(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 17:47, Reply)
Mister Sweary Man
I was returning home from work across Waterloo Bridge when I witnessed this wonderful piece of tramp harshness. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Waterloo Bridge, at the end there is an elevator that leads down to the South Bank. On this particular day there was a large dreadlocked chap selling the Big Issue in front of this elevator.

As I approached, a well dressed, softly spoken man and his family walked up to the lift and politely asked the tramp if he could push the button for them. For some reason, he took offense to this, and proceeded to yell, right into the poor man's face;

"Do I look like a fucking lift attendant, you CUNT?!"

He then went on to tell the surrounding group of stunned commuters that "You can fuck right off an' all, y'wankers!"

At which point, the well-dressed man quickly ushered his wife and child away, the commuters strode on, tutting and mumbling to themselves, and I leaned against a wall, tears of laughter rolling down my face.
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 17:37, Reply)
Billy the Quid
In Chatham, we used to have this young, homeless guy nicknamed 'Billy the Quid' on account of him always pestering people for 50p and then raising it to £1.

Billy: 'Got a spare 50p, mate?'
Public: 'No'
Billy: 'Then can ya spare us a paaaaaand, bruv?'

If you gave him the money, he'd shake your hand and then you'd realise he'd made it smell of wee.

His favourite haunts were the kebab shop by the Tap n Tin, New Road Bridge and Chatham High Street, where he could target mainly youths between 15 and 18. The legends say he spent the money on heroin, slot machines and fingerless gloves.

He's rarely seen these days due to an ASBO issued to him a while back.

He has made the urban dictionary, though, and there are facebook groups dedicated to him and his quest for a pound.

Here's a picture of him. Note the Shane Macgowan style teeth.

(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 17:30, Reply)
Foot in Mouth
My favourate encounter with a homeless person occured when wondering back from Peterborough's classy Queensgate shopping centre over the foot bridge to the station.

There was normally someone on this bridge asking for change, and this particular day was no different. Being a young, caring Padawan (or maybe due to an annoying strong conscience, I once went back into a shop to give them back 10p which they had over-changed me - I had been agonising over all day, yet I digress) I checked my pockets but realised I didn't have a single coin to rub together (nor a one-handed clap).

I asked him if he smoked instead and he said yes so I offered him the packet with the immortal line that still makes me cringe to this day:

"Cool well have one of these, sorry, they're only Lambert and Butlers but Beggars can't be..."

It was at that point when I realised what I was about to say. My face went white and the guy looked sharply at me seeing if I was taking the piss. The look of horror on my face must have been priceless as he burst out laughing. I threw the whole pack at his feet before stammering an apology and running across the rest of the bridge, his laughter echoing after me all the way...
(, Mon 6 Jul 2009, 16:44, 1 reply)

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