Paid. Pride.

Today we finally got paid for the geegees. Considering the hours we worked and the care we put in it’s almost criminal how long it took. But it’s in today. Myself, Tristan, Will and Gillian all met up in Soho and went to The 10 Cases on Endell Street. Expensive but you can get very good wine. And having lived on toast and charity for the last few weeks I’m very happy to be in a position to pay my way for a change.


We got a seat outside, as the sun was setting. We watched the world go by. We enjoyed good wine. And good company. Four friends who had been in a hospitality warzone. We bought a lot of expensive wine in the sunset. As we were talking, various people stopped at our table to ask for money. We politely rebuffed them. One guy stopped twice and we heard him out twice before saying we wouldn’t help. It’s noticeable how many people there are these days begging in Central London. This guy’s English was good, and he had the air of an addict. I’m not an expert and I have no idea of his circumstances. But when he came to us a third time I made the mistake of cutting him off as soon as he said “Excuse me,”. I said “I’m sorry, we won’t help you.” I looked him in the eye as I said it and spoke without aggression or tension. But I clearly judged it wrong. Perhaps he didn’t know it was the third time. He very quickly became aggressive. Which made him drool. Whatever he was lacking, he definitely needed it. But I was enjoying an evening with friends, not selling whatever he needed. So I couldn’t really help. I had to stand and calmly reiterate that I wasn’t being aggressive, that I had nothing against him personally. His response was that we were sitting in his chair and drinking his wine and this was his town. As he was starting to tell me this a long drool almost landed in Gillian’s wine, which made me stand up so as to move him somewhere he would only drool on me, himself and the pavement. But of course it looked like I was squaring up to him, and I’m a head and a half taller than him. So all the waiting staff came running out : “I’m sorry sir, he’s becoming a problem.” ; “I’m not going to punch him, I just don’t want him drooling in my friend’s drink.” Meanwhile I’m trying to tell the guy obliquely that I understand he’s a human being and I only cut him off because it was the third time I’d heard his spiel. I didn’t even critique the spiel. In the past I’ve slightly dickishly given people advice on the colour or layout of their sugarblood, or how they are directing my eyes to it, or the evidently bad detail of their story sometimes to very bad reception and occasionally to very good. Elements of the discipline I practice. With him I was just trying to undo the bad blood I’d caused by dismissing him before he’d started. Pride is huge, even in addicts who can’t stop drooling. Nobody wants to be dismissed before they’re heard, even if their short term memory is such that they can’t recall being dismissed twice before in the same night. We want to be heard. To feel like we are not just shouting “I EXIST” into the void.

I have no conclusion. No pat way of turning this. If I was minted I’d probably give everyone the benefit of the doubt plus change, and not be minted for long. I feel bad about not being patient with him, but also it’s interesting how the thing that triggered his rage was his feeling of dismissal. I struggle with being dismissed in my craft. I worry that my TV CV (or more specifically lack of it) causes me to be dismissed before I’m considered. Which concerns me as I see how television has unexpectedly become the home of the long term story arc. I want to get a piece of that pie. But drooling into people’s wine, and shouting with mad eyes – that isn’t going to get me the changing job I need. I’m not sure what is, but I’m going with sheer optimism and bloody mindedness, just because that’s what I’ve got left…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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