I haven’t written a blog for four months. FOUR. Which is shameful, especially as nearly every day something happens whereby I end up so disgruntled or awed that I mentally declare that I’ll go home and write a blog about it. But here we are. As a friend of mine commented a while back, now us Maglabbers08 have got writing jobs, none of us have the time to…well, write; I spend my entire day getting other people to write for me. But let’s be fair, in four months I’ve taken lots of really hard and boring exams, started a new job, been ill three times, moved house twice, engaged in a number of epic battles with various financial institutions, dragged my car through its MOT and have, more weekends than not, played the dutiful host to friends who give our spare room meaning. So…still your judging tongues.
Anyway, I’ve noticed of late a real downturn in the quality of clipboard mafia that frequent Queen Street. Once, their bright bibs, manic smiles and (more often then not) dredded ‘I’m on a gap year’ hair identified them quickly and easily, allowing you to zig zag your way up the street, thereby adding ten minutes to your journey but avoiding the inevitable guilt that came with staring at the ground or shaking your head in a minute fashion as they bounded up to you, desperate little faces abeam, and tried to befriend you with statements like “I love your coat, let’s talk about starving children,” or some such.
But now? Well, I’ve identified three emerging trends in clipboard brandishing. The first, and arguably the most heartbreaking, comes in the form of a short, balding man who stands near Topshop, whose drawn, weary face can barely summon enough movement to properly form words, and as such, any attempt to gain your attention is nothing more than a pitiful squeak, accompanied with pleading eyes and the sense that if you don’t stop and talk to him, he’ll go home and cry into his microwaveable meal for one. The worst thing is that you can hear him bleating pitifully for a good 20 metre radius. At first I felt guilty, but now I just feel angry, like I want him to get all up in my grill and be a pain in the ass and tell me about frail old people or water aid or whatever, but that might just be me secretly hoping that in doing so he’ll be proving to his mother that at 45 he’s old enough to look after himself and is finally ready to move out. I don’t know.
Anyway, trend two: stealth. And this one is mainly attributable to commercialism, rather than charity, which makes it worse. I was in a bit of a rush the other day, when this regular, non-clipboard brandishing woman literally steps right into my path. “Excuse me,” she said. “Do you know where XX hair salon is?” Thinking she was asking for directions, I said that yes, I did, and proceeded to utilise the age old method of pointing fingers and jabbing air to illustrate the way. “Oh great!” she beamed. “Do you go there often?” Uh oh, I thought. I smell a rat. And she opened her innocent looking handbag to reveal stacks of flyers for XX hair salon, pulled one out and said “Because if you do, you just love this month’s offer on…”. And I was trapped. Nice work XX hair salon. You won’t get me again, even if you do convincingly masquerade under the guise of a little old lady asking the way to a pet food shop. I won’t be fooled.
And finally, emerging trend three: public humiliation. A Hare Krishna devotee (identifiable from the shaven head/pony tail look), in a summoning-the-dog fashion whistles at me, whistles at me, then shouts, “‘Ello sausage! Ever think about spirituality?”. And as I quicken my pace to get the hell away from him, it occurs to me that everyone in the vicinity is not only questioning my religious and spiritual inclination, but are also probably staring at my thighs. THANKS KRISHNA.