Not exactly sure what he does but I see him everyday. He stands around telling people about respect or waving a friendly hello to the Rupert Street familiar. One day the wind robbed me in broad daylight sending a flutter of notes tumbling down the street like a pack of pissed-up butterflys. A tenner landed at his feet and he snatched it from the ground just as I reached for it myself. He mounted an invisible horse and galloped in circles cackling like a leprechaun from the wrong side of the tracks. I chased after him, caught up in the gleeful game. His heels wheeled, his eyes locked onto mine as his face fell like a mime wiping the grin from his face with a white cotton glove.
“What?” he said.
I was bouncing about like a Labrador chasing a ball so his sudden gravitas made me feel a little foolish.
“Can I have my money back?”
“My money you picked up off the floor.”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Just give it back.”
“Are you calling me a thief? Why you disrespecting me? Eh? Why you fucking disrespecting me?”
My how quickly the mood can change, thought Pooh.
“Just give him his money back you crack-head fuck,” came a voice from stage left. It was the tough girl from the peep show. All mouth, hoop earrings and wanton aggression.
“Eh give ‘im back the money. We don’t want no trouble on this street. Why you bringing this sheet down here. What for eh? Ten pounds? Fuck’s sake you stupid piece of sheet,” chipped in the Maltese street tout. His national cross glinting menacingly through his chest hair.
“Why you making trouble for us,” asked the diminutive Thai food vendor. “We all trying to make a living here you need to leave him alone.”
It was a beautiful scene of community rallying. Pure Hollywood schmaltz. But the villain of the piece didn’t give a shit. Two bobbies approached the feud.
“You want to give it back or do you want to talk to these guys?” My balls said with only the slightest of tremors.
And with that the storm was over. The wind dropped and the tenner floated down into my hand with a cool handshake and a brotherly clinch.
“Was only fuckin with ya,” he said.
“Any trouble here?” the bobbies enquired.
“Nah,” I said “no trouble.” Which for some reason made me feel like I was living out a Scorsese flick but was probably more like The Bill.
He apologised the next day covered in sweat, eyes bugging out of his head.
“I shouldn’t of done that bruv cos were the same you and I. We’re the same.”