Yesterday was just what I needed – it took me right out of myself and proved a beautiful, wonderful distraction from the rest of life.
The sun shone all day (I even got a little sunburned) and I got lots of exercise walking round town with my friend, who’d come from a few cities over to spend the day, see the new flat and watch movies.
I also got some shopping done
- New sports bra (much to his chagrin) because at netball on Friday night I confirmed once and for all that a sports bra more than 10 years old does not suffice. I shall leave the rest for you to imagine
- Toothpaste – it ran out a few days ago and I’ve been pinching Husby’s ever since. I don’t like his toothpaste. I have sensitive little toothypegs and I need the proper ‘Sensitive’ stuff done best by brand names (at a cost)
- Mattress protector for our spare bed (still so thrilled we have a spare bed!) so that when Niece and Neff start coming to stay over, their nightime ‘accidents’ won’t be the end of the mattress
I also bought lunch for a homeless woman who was sat outside a supermarket ‘express’ outlet. We’d just walked past her to a restaurant where we’d had a wonderful lunch (burrito and diet coke) and walking back past her with a full stomach, I felt bad. Someone, somewhere, at some point, must’ve cared for her (I hope) and in the spirit that (were that person present) they’d like to see her looked after and noticed, I offered to buy her a meal.
Before you go thinking I’m a wonderful person (or blowing my own trumpet) I share this because I’m still in a bit of a muddle in my thinking here and I’m hoping that writing it down and getting your feedback (please) will help me to sort out my ideas.
My friend said that I was a good person and much more generous than he, which was nice, but I’m not sure it was really accurate.
Homeless people have always been one of the societal groups which have ‘got’ to me. I feel terribly guilty when I ignore them, because I know I could do something (however small) to help, and if I’ve got that week’s Big Issue magazine and am approached by a vendor, I feel bad saying no. I can’t not view them as people in a pretty desperate situation whom *someone* should care about, because we’re all human here – we owe each other that, surely? And if no-one else will, why not me?
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me – Matthew 25:36
I’m sure the same goes for ‘I was hungry and you fed me’.
I have always had a policy of not giving money to homeless people (I’ve always been taught not to, because I’ve then no way of knowing what they’ll spend it on. Not that it’s my business, but I don’t feel comfortable potentially fuelling an addiction. And I know that’s a judgement call I can’t really make, not having all the facts, so I err on the side of caution) so I offer to buy food for them (though not if they’re a bloke and I’m alone, which is perhaps another judgement call it’s not my place to make, but again, erring), which (in my experience) has always been welcomed.
Other people I know have told me that I’m stupid for buying the Big Issue or for getting food for homeless looking people, because ‘they’re all on benefits’ and probably better off than I am. It’s a well known fact that one of the local ‘homeless’ has a 2 bedroom house. Another is allegedly a known drug dealer, using the magazine as something a cover for his earnings.
In the spirit of erring on the side of caution, I prefer to buy the magazine (though not to excess) and offer a simple meal. In my heart of hearts I’d like to take them to lunch then home for a shower and a change and (if they need it) a sleep in a bed for the night. I don’t because a) it’s not just up to me; b) I’m afraid of being robbed and c) I’m not entirely sure it’s appropriate.
In the same way as when I see a parent screaming in anger at their child, I get a physical pang when I see a homeless person in the street looking sad, desperate and hopeless. I want to fix it for them somehow. I want to do more than I can. I don’t think it’s particularly good, I just think it’s human.
And not that I’ll often get political, but the death of Margaret Thatcher left one very sour, lasting impression in my mouth. All 650 MPs were cleared to each claim up to £3750 in expenses to attend a session in the House of Commons to pay tribute to her. In the days of video conferencing, this seems utterly unnecessary, a gross misspending of taxpayer money and an insult to the woman herself – surely no-one should need to be paid to attend if they are doing so for the reason of wanting to pay tribute! I sincerely hope that ALL those in attendance had the integrity to claim nothing. Goodness knows they have the salaries not to need it.
Back to my lovely day.
We chatted as we walked back to the flat and my friend had The Grand Tour (he approves) then we watched Pitch Perfect (hilarious, light-hearted and a great movie – I’ll buy it when I see it cheap) and 2/3 of Sliver Linings, which was alright. I’ll watch the end at some point; I probably won’t buy it.
In the evening, Husby and I (and the rest of the Youth Team) led a group of 30 or so 11-14 y/o’s in a Cartoon Evening, which was very well received. We rounded off the night with take-away and a couple of episodes of The Good Life, where we decided that although we bicker like Margo and Jerry, we probably are more like Tom and Barbara at heart, and would likely dance in a pond at 3am given half the chance.