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Of Tramps, George Orwell....and the way it is.......

message posted 26-Apr-08 15:43:44

There are some books you hear about once in your lifetime, and they stick in your mind……for some obscure reason or other………and by this very same fate you never get to come across them for years and years…..

And then suddenly……..BANG!!!!!!

Over a night of melancholic inebriation with a friend after a sumptuous dinner of roast lamb on account of the big four-o-, and him, I suspect trying to make amends to patch up a wobbly friendship, (the conversation is laboured, if not stunted….but we go back a long way.…and overcome this by reminiscing….hahaha!!) we move into the den. And the books….man…..they’ve got more books than the local library…books on anything and everything….books everywhere…..ecstasy….I’m scanning….scanning….not talking much now…
My friend, relieved, I guess, comfortably moulded into the sofa, his eyes are half closed now with the bottom half of his pupils showing like a half moon….eerie…….

Then suddenly………BANG!!!!!!

Down and Out in Paris and London, by George Orwell,….. I lunge for it.
One of the greatest reads ever….Get it!!!

Years ago as a kid I worked in a fast food chain company, first as pot wash, then surface scrubber, and after a couple weeks effort, was given a one pence per hour pay rise and promoted to the grills. My boss was a most delightful Oriental lady(trouble was, she was dating her boss…..), with whom I took liberties to explain my predicament- one pence per hour was not worth the aggro, as I had issues with my mates jeering from back of house and others from front of house. To compensate, she let me smuggle out whatever left over food I could-on the sly!! Company policy was/still is to bin all the left over food. And firmly secure the bins and make inaccessible. I still had issues, and asked to go back to pot washing. She let me keep the one pence……the twinkle in her eye…..aaaaaahhhh…….
Thing is hundreds of tramps traipsed about the shop front come seven pm and onwards into the night. Sometimes some of them would be settling to bed on the shop front as we left for home circa one am, and the managers every morning scrubbed off wee, and not unoften, excrement. We always avoided eye contact with the tramps, because you knew that they knew your ruck sack was full of food…..
Over the years before and after, I’ve worked in hotels and restaurants, and know of establishments, everywhere, where an obscene amount of food goes into the bin.
Every night!

About three years ago I befriended(very loosely, indeed!!!!) a chap that would occasionally shuffle about our patch painfully slow on account of a knobbly foot and a twisted knee. It was excruciating watching him cross the road, took forever. It was doubly excruciating in a perversely gleeful way watching the motorists clenching and unclenching their irritated impatience (pretending to be unaffected!), interspersed with sorrowful empathy at his misfortune, especially at rush hour. I had my thoughts…. Yes, a definite tramp; slept in the church foyer across the road….and yes, he did stink the foyer, bad! For a season I noted him as I got to work, and as we finished up every night. Then he disappeared over the winter. He was back on the scene as soon as the Spring warmed up.
I am naturally very nosey, bad I am!
One night I got it so bad, I had my soon to be departed angel to go ask him to hold out for ten minutes behind the restaurant if he fancied a grub. Funny this, as angel was most terrified of any creature that did not conform, but my agitation got her moving.
Ten minutes passed, and then angel informs me my ‘friend’ was playing peek-a-boo, and probably upsetting customers, so I got to get a move on.
I sent her out with soup, a sandwich, and a cup of tea; figured I might as well educate her into dealing with odd-folk(no it did not work!!!….I never got to find out!).
Two minutes later I was finished and went out to speak to the tramp…..he was gone…just caught a glimpse of him making the corner into the church, a hundred or so yards away.
Aha…so he had a second gear…….
Of course, human nature, he was back the next night and thereafter…. I was ready for him. Took out the packed dinner to him, and he was making to move on as soon as.
I’m like ‘Hey, chap what’s your name?’
My biggest mistake, now I reckon, because of the momentary hesitation.
And because I knew he lied I immediately lost interest in the name proffered.
But I still offered him breakfast….(.I suppose I wanted to know more about him and why etc etc etc)….and dinner every day. But I also got to work out that he preferred to eat alone, because he always made to move on as soon as he was laden. Completely refused to eat with me at breakfast!
I got used to the smell….and got to talking to him sat outside on the stone walls, watching the world come to before I gave him his box of goodies. Transpired he was a biker, and his leg got mangled by a van out of a T-junction, and was held in place by pins and plates, forcing him to quit work as a farm hand. My thoughts about gear two stayed as thoughts….
About family and originations, he was as vague as he possibly could be…..but there was the mention of Bristol in passing. As to his whereabouts during the winter….Bristol, Bath….Bristol…Food during the day… elderly lady in the other church in charge of the cafeteria took care of that!
I was tempted to offer him digs as now angel had flown…..but the smell…..and I had an inherent fear he might start pawning off my stuff. An oxymoron in itself in that I have stuff in a lock up that I have not thought about in two years!!!!!
One glorious autumn evening I was doing some outside catering work for a botox and plastic surgery clinic that had launched by the church where he slept; I caught him shuffling in and preparing to bed. So I sneak a few nibbles his way-and he was down right frosty, gruff, unmoved- and had me make off with my nibbles. Obviously an invasion of his space…
And there is where I figured on my mistake, number two-people on the receiving end of charity do not necessarily have to appreciate their benefactor. For all you know, they probably despise you…… human nature…Orwell confirms it!!!!!
Figure this, every time someone offers advice, even if you do know you are seriously screwing up, and no matter that you know they are right and you are soooo wrong, your first reaction is ‘******fin***** patronising **********retard!! Stick it!!’. Correct?

Then he was gone…..never seen him since….just the way it is……..

Speaking of which….one does not see many lady tramps…..
Being a tramp, one is enforced into celibacy…….ohhhh hell!!!!!
Consider, as being a tramp is a state of enforced idleness-which gives rise to no cash flow….most folk need to keep busy…I think damnation is kind, in reference to tramps……

***Every time I offered a beggar a shift in the pot wash in exchange for meals and cash-I always got the Two Finger Salute, followed by the Middle Finger, and then a volley of the colourful stuff-the kind that give a certain chef a run for his money!!!!!***

I hated long holidays because I’d go mad with twitchy fingers. A holiday would have been three days of 12 hour sleep then I was ready for work……but with the onset of mid-life…….I am keen…..holidays mean working with other chefs…..and eating in return for my efforts…..

By the same token we are looking for chefs who would be disposed to doing some fun charity gig. Hefty, hard work, and for an extended period- in stints, probably 2- 3 months ……at a time for the core group; we are setting up a charity-an Orphanage in Kenya-….resilience, resourceful, and fun. If interested, email me for more info.
message posted 29-Apr-08 15:28:02
Hey CrazyChef

I wont be able to help out this time but if you ever set up a charity gig for CHEFS, maybe a month in the sun having my sore feet massaged, the fish bones carefully removed from my fingers and some sun cream rubbed on for my Chefs Ass, then count me in..

You are Crazy Man !!
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