There’s this guy who stands outside the St. John’s Wood tube station and asks for change. Not just any amount of change — 60 pence. I thought it was a freak thing, but I’ve seen him twice now standing there asking if anyone can spare 60 pence. London doesn’t seem to have too many panhandlers, especially not in NW8, so he piqued my interest. Living in Chicago made me cold-hearted towards beggers, so I ignored him, but I really wanted to ask him why 60 pence. That’s not enough to ride the tube. The first time I thought maybe someone had already given him £1.30 (maybe he has an Oyster card) or £3.40 and he needed 60 pence to make up the difference for a ticket, but that would be odd two days in a row.
It reminded me of the time Stephen and I encountered a big flamboyant begger in Chicago who asked us — with a lisp — if we could spare $2 so he could go to “the gay area of Belmont.” I didn’t have any cash on me, but he certainly won points for creativity.