square B6, cemetery lake - 1/11/03

The Man Who Feeds Birds

He comes down here everyday and walks 3 miles of the Common for exercise (he's had 2 heart bypasses and 1 operation on his stomach. The 1st bypass in 1984 was on the NHS and very successful. The 2nd and the stomach operation he had to pay for himself, as waiting lists were too long. They cost him £30,000 combined. He says this, and state pensions, are this country's downfall.)

He resents the fact that people in London told him not to feed the pigeons because 'they are dirty' when there are young people doing drugs and living in boxes on the streets who don't even shave.

He says that he knows the pigeons on the Common and recognises a new one with brown feathers and a pinky green sheen. I tell him it's because the pigeon population must have heard about his reputation and canteen services. He laughs and then tells me he buys 7 or 8 almost out-of-date loaves from Safeway for 10-25p each, leaves them in his kitchen and then just takes what he needs each day.

When her knee isn't bad, his wife sometimes walks with him, but today he's on his own, walking to build up an appetite before dinner at 4pm (he's under strict instructions to be home by then)

He moved to this country in 1952 and has worked for his living rather than accept any handouts. He thinks this country shouldn't be giving homes to so many people. He doesn't think they should be given mobile phones when they haven't even got a passport (I just nod along. I don't really understand)

He laments the loss of pay-phones and public benches. He thinks the world is changing even faster than ever and wants to know about the next technological development is going to be. I tell him I can't help him with that.

He hated Mrs. Thatcher. But dislikes Tony Blair just as much.




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