I love living in London and living in Brixton in particular. There is always something to look at, be it that crazy person attacking the bus with his walking stick (more common in Brixton than you might imagine) or a couple of cyclists having a fight with a van driver over his erratic driving technique. It's the spice of life.
One MAJOR problem about living here is the stupid amounts of charity workers prowling the High Street trying to get you to sign up to donate money to various worthy causes.
Being unemployed, i am not exactly their prime target but i'm there and that's all that matters to these blood suckers! There is no way of avoiding them, they line both sides of the road, and wait for you to make a mistake so that they can pounce.
I have developed a vareity of techniques for avoiding them and thus not having to make up some useless excuse which makes me look like a cheap skate and thus a bad person. Of course i care about the starving children in Africa and yes, yes - that puppy does indeed look terribly skinny but i just can't be giving away money seeing as i have absolutely none of my own.
I don't want them to know this though.
In my opinion, they make one fundamental error. Bright clothing. A true professional can spot them a mile off and formulate exactly the right method of counter attack.
Here are a few of my faves:
1 - The "I'm in the middle of a telephone conversation"
This is the best and by far my most used method of avoiding them. I spot their brightly coloured t-shirt and smiling face and pull out my phone and pretend that i am answering potentially the most important phone call of my life.
They must see people pretend to do this all the time but i've become a master. The conversations that i have with the pretend caller on the other line are oscar worthy. Depending on my mood and how much energy i have, sometimes i argue with the person on the other end;
"NO - OF COURSE I'M NOT DOING THAT! ARE YOU MAD? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?"
Sometimes i even brazenly make eye contact with the charity worker and raise my eyebrows indicating that this telephone conversation is a serious inconvenience to me and that i would much rather be talking to them and of course donating at least a fiver a week to whatever charity they are touting.
I usually shrug apologetically and carry on shouting at my imaginary enemy whilst gesticulating wildly with my free hand to indicate just how completely out of order they are being thus completing the lie adequately.
I should really consider a career in acting.
Other times - i keep it really low key and just mutter into the phone, sheepish of the fact that i am pretending to be speaking to someone and nervous that one of my mates will choose that fateful moment to call me and embarass me beyond belief. It hasn't happened yet.
Sometimes i just laugh because i haven't the energy to think of anything to say so i act as though the person on the other line said something highly amusing and i can't stop laughing. Lazy i know...and slightly creepy when you think about it.
The problem is with fake conversations is that you have to ensure that they come to a logical conclusion. You cant just walk past and immediately pop your phone back in your pocket. That would be a school boy error. They would see that the telephone call was a farce and follow you down the street and expose you for being a liar. Therefore i find myself continuing the fake phone malarkey until i am well out of earshot. Sometimes i continue it all the way home just to make sure.
Another problem arises when you can't locate your phone quick enough or you have left it at home. In this case i have developed another foolproof tactic which works but again makes you look slighty weird.
2 - The "Look at anything but them"
I find that looking at the sky is good. It not only makes you appear dreamy and thoughtful but there is also lots of cool stuff up there. There's always some building you havent noticed or a pair of disguarded trainers hanging off an electricity line.
I do warn you though - it can result in injuries and angering of fellow pedestrians.
I also like to pretend that i am particuarly interested in that approaching bus or a fellow pedestrian - sometimes i even wave to an imaginary companion as if i am just about to begin a conversation thus making me too busy to stop and chat.
I didn't claim that any of these tactics made you look cool and it can result in some awkward exchanges with people who think you are waving at them but it's a price that i am willing to pay.
3 - The "Handbag Rummage"
Another tried and tested method is losing that tiny thing that you urgently need to locate at precisely the moment that the waterproof coat wearing student lunges at you holding a handful of brochures.
I like to get my head as close to inside the bag as possible and have a real rummage like i have lost something very dear to me.
This diversionary tactic is very useful and if they try and stop you despite this they are clearly being rude because you are in the middle of something and you can just say no and continue foraging.
4 - The "Crossover"
Simple. You spot them and you cross the road. Only problem with this is that there are usually rival charity workers working the other side of the street so it can get pretty dangerous.
I wouldn't recommend this one.
The fact that i have given this so much thought is clearly an indicator that i have too much time on my hands and fake phone calls should surely be one of the first signs of madness after hairy palms.
BUT, i guarantee you they all work like a charm and if you live in London or have ever visited our fair city - you know that it is entirely necessary.
You could of course just politiely decline...but where's the fun in that!