Day 71 of 80 — Big Issue

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I  have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be  my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.
And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 71: Big Issue

Big Issue? Big Issue? Eddy sells the magazine on the corner of Neal Street and Long Acre. I don’t usually stop — I know I probably won’t read the magazine and so rarely buy it. But I saw him have a tough time and look a bit discouraged so I went up and bought a copy. He thanks me… and mentions that it’s his birthday. 48 years old today.

So I buy him coffee — a latte with three sugars. As he drinks it, he tells me about his life. He is Scottish and he knows Belgium. He even lived in Brussels for a few months. He loves the “Grand Place” which he describes as “like a pencil drawing”. What a lovely image.

He has been homeless for a couple of years but he is doing ok. He stays three or four nights a week with a friend and the rest of the time he sleeps on a bench in Victoria Embankment Gardens. “Isn’t it a bit cold for that?”, I ask. “Not if you know what you’re doing”, he says. He tells me he’s got a system to turn any bench into an improvised tent which allows him to keep dry. Warm, I’m not sure, but dry at least.

A difficult situation but he’s determined. He’s saving money to get a driving license so he can one day become a bus driver. “A man with a plan!”, he tells me confidently.

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