b3ta.com user blindmelon
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Lived in Blackpool for 18 years before being scared away to Edinburgh by pygmie gypsies brandishing flourescent light tubes. It was my mum's fault, she refused to buy a tatty plastic keyring shaped like a horse. I'm now 33 and have moved down to the Big Smoke to seek my fortune but am not willing to look very hard for it.

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» Tramps

Dublin 2004 - three days after passing my medical finals.
The preceeding 2 months had been a hell of enforced purgatory as a result of drinking and dossing my way through medical school, occasionally forging signatures to pass modules. I was on the cusp of fucking up my entire career and it was time to deny myself life’s little pleasures in order to protect the only job I was able to secure: whipping boy in Man’s Worst Hospital.

But that was the past and this is now. And by now I mean 2004. I celebrated my academic good fortune by lying on the grass in Phoenix Park, beer in hand, sun in sky, the dulcet tones of the Pixies hitting my tympanic membranes - they had just reformed. Although, having chomped my way through 2 boxes of Pro-Plus and having not slept for 72hrs I was finding the gig rather difficult to enjoy. The crowds of people surrounding the stage had begun to resemble the waves of the sea and, accordingly, I began to feel a little sea-sick. By the time the headlining act, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, hit the stage this sensorial torture had become unbearable and so I headed towards the centre of Dublin, buying a sandwich and plonking myself down on a bench in St. Stephen’s Green.

As far as inner city parks go, St. Stephen’s Green is a peach. To my memory, ornate bridges span burbling water features, with broad aged trees providing much needed shade over the benches that border the stone paths. It’s not a very green park but it’s a great place to sit and watch the world go by whilst you lunch. St. Stephen’s Green is also notable for being the setpiece of my favourite tramp encounter.

I had never seen Irish tramps before, although I was not surprised to see that they were alcoholic. There were four of them in total, and pretty interchangable in that they each had a bulbous red nose, hairy cheeks and malodourous rags for clothes (except for one, who was wearing a green Ireland football team shirt to compliment his dubiously stained black trousers). They staggered in formation towards the bench next to mine. I increased my grip on my soda bread. I noticed that the tramp in green had taken on a sort of leadership role and was cradling a tube that was wrapped in white paper. The other three tramps followed excitably behind, almost pawing at the paper tube.

“C’mon now, this belongs t’all of us. Y’know that,” said one of the interchangable tramps to the tramp in green.

“Ah, to be sure, ‘tis a great afternoon indeed,” replied the leader, slowly unwrapping the paper tube to gasps from the amassed tramp populace.

The tube was actually a bottle of medium-priced Jacob’s Creek red wine wrapped in paper, the sort that you’d get on offer at your local supermarket for about £5. To my sophisicated friends here on b3ta I’m sure that the opening of a bottle of Jacob’s Creek is something of a non-event; but to the tramps of Dublin, this bottle represented their entire day’s begging money. This wasn’t the opening of a bottle of wine, this was the opening of the Ark of The Covenent.

With great ceremony, the leader removes from his pocket a shiny metal object with “MALLORCA” written across it in gaudy rainbow lettering. From this, a corkscrew swings out on a hinge next to a metal ring for hooking your keys to. The bottle is uncorked. The tramps applaud. They really APPLAUD and my sandwich goes uneaten as I watch, mesmerised, not entirely sure whether my insomnia has led to wild hallucination. The leader lifts the neck of the bottle up to his fat red nose and inhales deeply, a wide grin appearing on his face before exhaling with a satisfied sigh. Cheers abound. Then, as in a spirit of community, the leader takes a long gulp from the bottle and hands it to the tramp on his right, who is sat on the bench.

I like to believe that leader tramp had the time to think “Christ that’s better than K cider!” I’d like to think that he enjoyed his gulp of Aussie shiraz before he was knocked unconscious by his violent colleague, who had plucked an empty bottle of Stella from the bin and had twatted the leader around the head with it. On his way to the ground, the leader’s head crashes into the edge of the bench and I can see a thin trail of blood beginning to run down the path. There follows a stunned silence for what seems like an eternity. As an honest-to-God newly qualified doctor I’m contemplating running away lest someone recognises me and asks me to do something. Luckily, the silence is broken by the tramp holding the bottle, who composes himself and yells, “What the suffering fuck did you go and do that for? Jesus and Mary!”

Violent tramp is hyperventilating: a real ball of fury. “You know how fucking disrespectful that was! Fucking bastard, I should’ve killed the fucker, honest to God,” he fumes.

“But what? Why? You have to be patient for your turn on the wine.”

“Jesus suffering fuck, I’m surrounded by fucking animals,” laments violent tramp, “You’ve got to let the wine BREATHE!”
(Mon 6th Jul 2009, 16:14, More)

» Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Tell-tale scrapings
I did a degree in experimental pathology and in the early days of the course we had to take scrapings from the inside of the cheek and examine them under the microscope. One of the girls noticed that there were "tadpoles" swimming around in her cheek cell sample. It was semen from a blowjob she had given that morning.
(Wed 21st Apr 2004, 23:21, More)

» Tramps

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 6th Jul 2009, 23:32, More)

» Foot in Mouth Syndrome

My 21st birthday
I'm sitting in a big armchair in a nightclub and this attractive girl has been sitting on the arm of the chair all night. We've been getting on quite well but I've never met this girl before and she's an obscure friend of a friend of a friend. Drunken logic kicks in and I decide that a relationship would never work. Eventually, the moment arrives when she make it painfully clear that sex is a definite option and in my mind I say this, "I like you but I don't really want a one night stand with you because we'd wake up tomorrow morning, say goodbye and never see each other again. I'm really sorry."

But what actually came out was, "No thanks, I don't want to see your face in the morning."

My friends have never let me live it down. And I never saw her again.
(Wed 21st Apr 2004, 17:59, More)

» Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Girl in student union
When I was young and naive, I was a student at Edinburgh University. One of it's many (shit) student unions is a cheesy nightclub affair called Potterrow. It's on 3 floors. Anyway, I was pissed out of my skull and was staggering down the stairs when I saw a very attractive girl clearly struggling to stand. She was trying to climb the stairs by clinging to the stair rail and dragging the rest of her body behind her. Always the smooth talker, I pointed and laughed at her saying something along the lines of, "My God, you're sooooo fucking drunk!"

She stopped, looked me straight in the eye and perfectly coherently replied, "No, I'm disabled."
(Wed 21st Apr 2004, 17:50, More)
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