Monday, 12 April 2010

Every Now and Then ...

... something happens that pulls me up in my tracks and makes my heart break.

I've been blogging lately about happy kinds of things - shopping, chocolate, the usual lightweight sort of things that occupy my time these days. Sorry to bring down the mood but every now and then something needs writing about something that needs to be done.

I was shopping today with the boys and we found ourselves in this rather seedy shop where the uniform of the sales staff can only be described as derelict grunge and there's more chewing gum than flooring beneath your feet. So there we are queueing to pay for a Skateboarding game ( in favour of killer zombies I'm happy to report) .

In front of us was someone also waiting to pay but he was swaying from side to side and was clearly very drunk . Not abusive, or loud or hideous as some drunks can be but just quietly off his head with alcohol. The kind of drunk I'd imagine you'd be if your daily liquid diet was meths. He was dressed in some rather stained decrepit clothing, a black hat pulled down over world weary eyes. I couldn't help but wonder what had happened to him in his life that had made him take this turn for the worse. Broken home, divorce, inability to cope with stress - the usual cliches ? Or had life just dealt him a cruel blow and given him the inherited addiction gene . And here he was in his forties , maybe younger, swaying gently from side to side, reeking of the demon drink, incapable of speech, oblivious to the stares of those around him.

What surprised me most was the reaction of our fellow shoppers. A thinly disguised mixture of irritation and disgust. I felt overwhelmed by a physical wave of pity for the tragedy that was his life. Now maybe I've got this all wrong , I hope so. Maybe he'd had a few too many beers and had just popped out for a quick fix in the video shop to while away the afternoon but I think not.

This was a tragic life, a helpless soul who'd found themselves taking the wrong turn somewhere along the line and had fallen by the wayside. It's normally the pictures of starving children, maltreated infants or forgotten pensioners that reduce me to tears but this sight made me want to weep. I couldn't help but wonder how it had all gone so terribly wrong. A life wasted. And how can we help ? Not by turning the other way surely ?

So, next time a canvasser comes knocking at my door asking how I'm going to vote , I'm going to ask them what they plan to do to help the countless other wasted lives that we see on every street in every town, some homeless, some drunk , some stoned but all lost.

God save us from another moronic government intent on the politics of the 'market', wealth creation and GNP whilst the human cost of lives spirals out of control.