"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).