About Me

"Use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping?"

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The kindness of strangers

The Queenstown Road/Lavender Hill junction, heading south at 5.50pm. An unusually warm late October afternoon, traffic heavy, slide inside two buses to get into the bikes only bit of the intersection in time to turn left into Wandsworth Road when lights change.

The bike's one working brake squeals as I pull up next to a 50-ish looking homeless guy, leaning against the traffic light pillar in a pose straight out of Hogarth. Watery grey-blue eyes, a straggle of long grey hair, jeans trainers teeshirt. He looks exhausted, finished. The hand that's not supporting his wieght seems cupped in readiness for aphantom special brew or at least a fag.

Then the door of the big white Ford Transit van in the outside lane opens, a tall, lean black guy levers himself out and - leaving the door wide open  - strolls across the road towards Sainsburys.

Is he crazy? the lights are about to change, he will never get whatever it is he wants in time.

He's not going to Sainsbury's, but only as far as the guy on the light-post. He hands him this vintage-look suede bomber jacket with a fleecy lining, says a few words, to the effect "can you use this?"

The homeless guy,  surprised,  takes it, blinking,  and as the black boy moves back across the road and into the Transit, the older man holds up the coat he's just been given and mouths a thank-you. Then he tries it on , it fits, it looks good on him.

The lights change, I see the driver - an older black guy, also in working clothes - smile faintly as he  heads off right into Lavender Hill. WHat was it made them do this at that moment, this kind impulse? Or is it something they do regularly?

Whatever, it's just one small random act of kindness that makes today seem a huge amount better than yesterday. Thanks to the two blokes in the white van.

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