Monday, March 28, 2005

Doctor Who and the First Time Cottagers

Well, it’s been a productive weekend so far. I’ve strolled around all sorts of different parts of town, camera in hand, with a variety of partners. Some time was spent in busier parts of town, some was spent in the kind of quieter, out of the way places only frequented by other photographers and first time cottagers.

On the subject of cottaging, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for new ideas for Doctor Who’s Tardis, now that he’s back on tele. He’s still travelling around in a 1950’s police box, the like of which I haven’t seen in London for years now. Times have changed, police boxes have disappeared and the fashion is for clip-on fascias for your latest high tech gadget; be it a cell phone, an MP3 player or trans dimensional spaceship. So, I’ve been looking around for a new ‘skin’ for the Doctor’s craft, one that will blend into the background on a London street in 2005. So far I’ve come up with:
  • Parking meter – too small
  • 24hr pizza vending machine – apparently now being withdrawn only a few months after their introduction
  • An abandoned mattress or sofa – plenty of those around but they don’t have a door
  • Superloo – not that common but so far the best option, largely because of the whole new range of plot lines and intriguing adventures that would be open to The Doctor
The strangest trans-dimensional adventure that I've experienced so far this weekend occurred outside the beigel shop at the end of Brick Lane. Ian and myself were tucking into our customary hot salt beef sandwiches at our now usual spot by the bin outside the shop. Actually, only Ian was tucking in. I had scarfed my munchies in seconds and was watching Ian eat his with a can of drink in my hand.

A black guy walked up to us. He was in his thirties, dressed in a leather jacket, shirt and jeans and seemed normal enough. I had noticed from the corner of my eye that he had approached some other people on the street a moment before and decided that he was cadging change. Before he could say anything to us, I frowned at him and shook my head. Then, unperturbed and in a New York accent, he said…

‘Hey man, stop hassling that guy eating his food. If you want something to eat I’ll buy something for you. Just leave that poor man alone. Leave him finish his meal in peace’

He grasped me by the elbow with one hand and with the other hand fished out about six or seven pounds in chunky change from his pocket and tried to force money into my palm whilst guiding me back into the beigel shop.

Almost mute from surprise and confusion, I politely refused his kind offer, in spite of repeated insistence. He eventually lost interest, ambled off and approached a succession of new potential friends along the street; tourists, Bangladeshi shop keepers, people in parked cars, people in moving cars, before finally turning his attention to inanimate objects.

I have come up with three possible explanations for his behaviour:

  • he was genuinely moved by compassion for and desire to communicate with his fellow beings
  • he was executing some kind of elaborate ‘sprat to catch a mackerel’ type scam
  • he was out of his t*ts
Me, I’ll plump for Answer C but, nevertheless, this is the only solitary occasion on which someone has approached me on the street and offered me money. And, as such, infinitely preferable to the more physical and less friendly approach taken by other people I’ve met who are doolally. This also may be a sign that I should get round to buying some new clothes.

Ian thought it was all very amusing, as he usually does when I’m accosted by a nutter, incensed Russian prostitute, crackhead or Loyalist demonstrator on the streets of London which, recently, has been almost every time we go for a walk together.

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