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Wednesday, February 09, 2005


Drunks, Beggars and assorted strangeness

During the Cold War there was a contingency plan to arm Traffic Wardens as guards for ‘zombie camps’ of people too badly contaminated to be allowed into ‘safe’ or areas less contaminated by radioactive fallout from nuclear weapon detonations. I occasionally wonder if these contingency plans still exist. If so, my colleagues and I would like to be told before being handed a second hand SLR 4 and told to shoot anyone coming over the wire. Things like “Where’s the ammunition?” or “Where’s the damn safety catch?” or more alarmingly “Which end do the bullets come out of?”. Mary our Manic Meter Maid needs to know this more than any of us – oh I don’t know though, I’d let her guess.

Said plans only applied if there was any ‘safe’ area left. This assumption was and is fatally flawed as most of the nuclear weapons extant at that time were capable of laying waste to the whole of the British Isles and then some. Nothing above ground would have survived. So I think the issues I outline might not have arisen.

I was pondering thusly on my way between restrictions when my Boss came on the air and asked me to do an abrupt volte-face and check out a car park I had been in half an hour before. “Right 515 (Not my real call sign). I want you to have a look for a person of the following description. CCTV has lost him and need someone on the ground to see where he is.” She rattled off a description and I acquiesced and did as she asked.

The car park was virtually empty at that time of the morning, in the hour between rush hour and the shoppers putting in an appearance so it was relatively easy to spot this guy. There he was, completely out of his tree, looking like he’d been dragged through a sewer (and smelling like it), dick hanging out; pissing on the car parks CCTV mast. No wonder they couldn’t see him, he was right under their electronic noses. I relayed this information via R/T to CCTV and began to head back to the job I was supposed to be doing. No such bloody luck.

Chummy mistook my uniform for real Police and stumbled up to me demanding to be arrested. Jesus! The halitosis alone should have been classed as an offensive weapon. Seven hours later my nose has still shut down in protest. Fortunately, CSO’s and real Police turned up and relieved me of the ‘challenge’ of dealing with said person. Apparently he was wanted for a series of offences ranging from indecently exposing himself to children to assaults on people who refused to give him money for meths or whatever he used to anaesthetise himself against his life.

Despite my opinion that anyone shooting him dead might be doing him a very big favour, I spent a good portion of the day between my usual duties wondering what drove him to where he was. Most of us have got seriously pissed at some time or other, or gone on a binge for a couple of days when we are young and stupid enough not to worry about hangovers. But what I can never work out is why people want to live like that; dirty, infested, pathologically unstable and unable to leave the booze alone. Alone because he couldn’t cope with relating to other people above a purely visceral level. Dirty and infested because his self esteem is in a permanent kamikaze-like dive.

Once he must have had a life. I suppose he must have had a life, or am I being naive here? The question that raised itself was this; What was so bad about his life that he wanted to drop out so far that he had to look up to see the floor? In addition, at what point do we as a society say “Sorry pal, you’ve put yourself in this situation.” And let the poor bastard fade away instead of pushing him through expensive social worker ‘support & rehabilitation’ programmes? Will the effort ever justify the expenditure?

From what I heard this afternoon, fade away is exactly what a lot of people would like this particular person to do. No names, no pack-drill.


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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