I had been at a works do. Top floor job. I guess I hadn’t thought it through because clearly there were more people having drinks than would fit in the private dining room but I still felt (unreasonably) miffed when they separated the diners from the people who needed to leave and I realized I wasn’t part of the inner circle.
I wasn’t in a going home mood and kicked along the Strand in Central London wondering what to do next. ‘You alright love?’ asked a friendly voice and I realised one of the small group of homeless people settling down for the night outside a private bank (they have the best pavements) was talking to me. We fell into conversation and he introduced me to his friend and fellow street-dweller. After a minute or two I realised I was having a better time talking to them then I had at the high level corporate socializing event so I found myself inviting the two of them to join me for a pizza.
We had a great evening. They were very comfortable talking about their lives so I’m sure I learnt far more than they did during our meal. And the staff in the pizza place were great – no snide comments and correctly treated all three of us as equally valid customers.
The shorter, younger one was very keen that I know he always ironed his shirts. ‘Every day,’ he explained proudly. ‘I know which hostels have irons that work and I make a point of going to one of them first thing in the morning, even if I’ve been sleeping rough. I can’t always wash my shirt but I can always iron it. It’s important to keep up standards’ he added, without a trace of irony (pardon the unintended pun). I fiddled somewhat nervously with my own crumpled collar. Myself, I probably get the iron out less than twice a year. During my brief marriage my husband asked me to iron a shirt for him once and I was careful to make such a bad job of it that he didn’t ask again. Just one of the reasons I’m so keen on sweater dresses.
Human dignity is an interesting thing though and we each need to find our own coping strategies for maintaining it no matter how difficult our current circumstances. Letting myself down is just that, so why would I? Rather pull myself together, gather my wherewithal into one place and give myself some critics mass. Then maybe the rest is more likely to happen of its own accord.