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Elsewhere Radio Orchestrar / Flickr December 2008
Sunday, May 25th, 2008 11:38 am
Farewell England

There's a knock at the door. I guess that I've been rather too generous with the volume. Circle Sky by the The Monkees, as it happens. Now then, now then... A high visibility jacket in green and yellow visible through rippled glass the sounds of rain. I suppose I should answer.

"I don't mean to intrude, but there is a rather delicate matter which I am really rather most embarassed to come to you about..."

It's not the Jehovah's Witnesses then. In fact, I'm on first name terms with them, since my policy is to be polite to visitors. We had a long chat about Arianism about a year ago and whatever my doubts about their teaching, I have to admit that they were both well read and diligently patient in their attempts to get me interested in their views. They come back from time to time. Hello, I say, I'm still not going to convert. No matter, they say, why not read our magazine about Armageddon? I'll give it a go. It probably doesn't help, I notice, that the print date is April 1st, you might want to rethink that. Thanks for pointing that out. Good day...

The sprawling introduction at my front door is clearly not that of an official. The jacket is clean, as are the trousers and shoes. In fact, it's a pretty good paramedic outfit. I don't think he works on the ambulances though. The Dickensian pat of hand wringing, the request that never quite gets to the point, he's obviously after money. There's rain pouring in through the roof, there are "children without electricity or gas..."! Well, that's clearly something that should be addressed, how on earth are you going to manage to cook them otherwise?

It's his face that gives him away. Phil claims that he's a nurse. Well, you're certainly highly visible I say. The face doesn't match the shoes. He's willing to offer his wedding ring as collateral if I lend him some money. No, I'll give you some money. There's no point thickening the duplicity and the repayment arrangements are going to take another fifteen minutes of emoting. Time that could be spent by Phil doing what he needs to, which is putting the money into himself through some means or another. "I need twenty pounds". It's a fairly audacious figure, but I'm willing to give Phil credit for starting high. He's worked out an outfit, worked out his spiel (I admire his "Respectfully,..." with which he starts a couple of sentences), he's working the street. Stanislavsky of the streets. It'd be a lot faster if he just said "I'm a junkie. I need money." Some in his state might go the way of low-level violence or burglary. But it's light outside and Sunday morning, not a good time for it. Phil looks the sort who has survived by using his wiles. He'd not manage otherwise. He'd fold on a single punch.

"Youve got to hand it to Phil." They say, back at some dingy room or another, waiting. "He really gets into it. Me, no, I'd just intimidate them into handing over a pound or so."

There is money in the house. In fact, there's rather a lot of it, but it's almost all Japanese and I'm not sure Phil wants something as unfamiliar as yen in his state. There'd be the nightmare of getting the thing changed, the percentages lost, percentages already lost on a product stepped into household dust. More time on the streets. As it is, I hand Phil a fiver and a twenty Euro note. Good luck to you, I say. This way, I think, Phil can get on to the next stage of the adventure without hassling anymore residents or, worse, trying to grab a bag or car stereo. Anyway, I'm leaving, and it's goodbye to the Phils of the area. There's something I remember in Raoul Vaneigem, something I most certainly misremember, that the gift is one of the revolutionary tools available to us in resisting and overcoming capitalism. Of course, in Phil's case, giving him money isn't really going to achieve anything so lofty. But I've been where Phil is, or not far off, working my own spiel, preposterous stories for preposterous ends. He looks respectable enough, I'm sure it's kosher. It wasn't, suckers. Goodbye Phil, for all the good it will do you.

Back in the sitting room, objects seeking storage, cases open for shirts and cables. The music shuffles on with Dion singing Daddy Rollin' (In Your Arms) (mp3 here).


Sunday, May 25th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC)

I seem to remember Dickon Edwards told a similar tale over at his blog [also a guy in a fluorescent jacket ... curiouser and curiouser]: ring on the door, tortuous story, lots of pleasantries etc. Similarly, in Walthamstow I had someone knock on my living room window at 2am: she claimed she needed money to stay somewhere for the night, she didn't mean to scare me, could I hand the money through the letter box? It seems to be a more regular occurrence than seem healthy - I've been hearing stories about how the disaster in Afghanistan and the boom in opium production has led to unprecedently low prices on street product in London. Perhaps it is all linked? I don't miss the Phils of this world - but, then, there's surprisingly little I miss about London these days ...

The Empire Never Ended
Friday, June 6th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)

Sorry for the delay in reply! It's either struggling with the rather quirky Japanese keyboard at the internet cafe or catching this intermittent wireless signal near home.

It would not surprise me if it was indeed the same person, although mine was more Phil Daniels than Davis. There's probably a course you can do at Central St Martins or somewhere in this sort of thing.

ReplyThread Parent
Friday, June 6th, 2008 01:40 pm (UTC)

Don't worry - I have a similar problem now I'm back at my folks' place in Dorset - someone in the village has a wireless connection, but it's a bit thin ...

When you say 'home', have you rented a house or a flat for the duration? I would assume a hotel room would be prohibitively expensive. All the best, N x

ReplyThread Parent
Wednesday, May 28th, 2008 09:55 pm (UTC)
This is unrelated.

I had a dream this morning that you were visiting me at the house I grew up in. You were fully clothed, and next to me in my bed, but I had no shirt on. We acknowledged that this was a taunting situation for you, but you were nice about it, and I was really comfortable shirtless. We may have been watching tv. I was a litte concerned that my mom would come in and get mad that I was topless under the covers with a man.

In my backyard, there was about 5 feet of snow, but you weren't in that part of the dream.

The Empire Never Ended
Friday, June 6th, 2008 01:46 am (UTC)
Re: This is unrelated.

She might have made me shovel all that snow with my shirt off if I'd been caught. Phew!

ReplyThread Parent