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Showing posts from December, 2011

Jan - ring home! A homeless Polish man adrift in London

He thrusts his hand towards me as soon as I emerge from Old Street underground station, fingers curled in a half-grip, long dirty nails. ‘Please give me some change’.  It’s good English with a familiar Eastern European inflection.  He’s stumbling along beside me now and he’s already calculated that I won’t be giving him any money.  ‘What about a kebab – a chicken kebab’.  We stop to talk and I look at him more closely.  He has the most terrible hair-cut – a real Gulag special - and is filthy, really filthy and looks half-starved. He tells me his name is Jan Dudek and he is Polish. We move on to the kebab house and he seems strangely embarrassed that he must resort to this – begging a stranger to buy him some food.  ‘A small kebab will do – just a small one with garlic sauce’.

Inside the kebab house the two young Turkish men nod sagely as they impassively slice pieces from the slab of chicken meat rotating on the spit. They know him well and solemnly advise me not to give him any money.…