The Big Issue by Steve Goodlad

“What you lookin’ at?” I would never have believed your reaction. I only said hello. If I had asked for money, you would have looked the other way? If I showed you a Big Issue or an empty Costa cup? Enclosed in a car on a motorway, your instinct is to nose and your rubber neck turns the opposite way when you are exposed. 

If I had shouted for help, what would your Samaritan do? Helping is an extreme sport here, like swimming with a dolphin but then you might see that it’s a shark, or a U boat. So, you don’t take the risk, you follow the shoal. You only get picked off if you show no control 

I am not selling double-glazing or signing you up for a donation or sizing up your clothes to judge your financial status whether you wear designer labels, or market stall specials. I have no intention to follow you, I am walking in the opposite direction. You look back at me like I am diseased, unclean or carrying an infection. 

I only said hello and you had me arrested for suspicious behaviour, disturbing the peace. For smiling in public, being friendly, letting my guard down. It’s not the done thing, people are locked up for such perversion. Snarl, frown, stare at the ground, ready to react, like a normal person.

Published in Issue #7

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