Wednesday, 28 November 2012
Withnail and I
It, of course, has its upsides. People doffing their caps as you walk by. Young children skipping next to you asking for your autograph. The sick touching your garb as you visit hospital wards pouring out sickly sweet tea. Yes, such moments bring a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose.
However, it does get wearisome on occasion. People always looking to you for an answer; politicians bending your ear on this or that proposal knowing that your approval will be of immeasurable value in getting their new car park, doggy loo or lap dancing club application through "committee".
Take last Saturday. Frankly I could have done with an extra hour or so in bed, but no; I have a conscience and an appointment diary. Saturday was Money Advice Fair day. My local MP had sent round a note asking for support and I, naturally, collared our local Citizens Advice Bureaux, of which I am a trustee, to be in attendance.
It was pouring down with rain. Our suburb can look bleak most days but last Saturday it had put on its glummest face. Heavy greasy rain fell incessantly as I trudged my way to the local school where the "Fair" was being held. It took all my effort to enter the building with a bonny smile on my face. Well, it was expected. There, behind trestle tables weigh down with leaflets, enquiry forms and cups of half drunk coffee were the dispensers of advice and comfort to the needy, in debt and desperate.
I was however shocked to find E.o.n, British Gas and Thames Water also represented. Although as the cause of much financial anguish for many people, I suppose it was only right they should get it in the neck. I tried to slip in unnoticed next to the CAB stand, but was immediately photographed by the press or someone trying unsuccessful to make a phone call and snapping me instead.
I, of course, immediately asked the CAB chappie ( didn't know his name) how things were going. As a Trustee it was my duty and role to show that I'm as concerned about the poor blighters seeking help and advice as the next man. However, I had to tell some poor bugger in no uncertain terms that I wasn't an adviser and, if he wanted help he ought to show some respect. Luckily the CAB expert chappie was able to take the tramp off my hands and offer him an appointment next week to discuss his immediate eviction, along with his wife, mother, grand mother, chickens and a pregnant sow.
Glad handing with local dignitaries (how ironic as I'm one myself) is tiring. The local MP - a lovely girl full of vim and misguided notions of equality and the like was keen to get me in a photo. I was only too happy to oblige...as long as I was not shot in front of the stand of the local recycling commune. Total lefties the lot of them.
I spent around 2 hours helping out. Making coffee, comforting the poor WI lady who'd got the wrong address. She was looking for an Organic Beading Workshop. She thought she'd been transported to Bulgaria or some other Eastern European flesh pot. Luckily a fellow trustee turned up and I was able to hand over to her and I bid farewell to the unfortunates of East London.
I was so lucky, I managed to get a cab almost straight away, having threatened the cab driver with a visit from one of my contacts in the Council. They're very hot on vermin at the moment and slave labour. So off to the local Mall - Westfields at Stratford and an afternoon of recreational shopping.
Bought a new phone - Nokia Lumia 920 - top brand. Extremely pricey. But you have to. If you're going to be out there for the poor and needy - being a pillock of the community - you need a bit of bling. Otherwise no one will respect you. Right?