Once a week they come, as if emerging from the mist - though there is no mist. There are those who stand, for a minute or so, and then slowly pace forward and back. Others sit on benches, alone, staring into space; clutching crutches and crumpled Primark bags. Yet more congregate in twos and threes, talking in quiet voices. All are waiting.
Voluminous beards uncombed, black eyes and fat lips, swollen cheeks and sores and gnarled, filthy hands with striated nails too long, which are clung to tenaciously by a deep black line of dirt. But it is the eyes which are as always the truest reflectors of the 'lives' led - hopes dashed and trust betrayed forever. Always guarded, somehow shadowed, and yet pleading silently for recognition as they wait.
Almost all are men, though there is occasionally one female, her gender discernible only by her dirigible breasts.
The pacers pace, and edge towards the invisible barrier, but they never cross. These desperate ones, who are outside all the structures of society, are still bound by the forces which shape it, and will not enter into the land of super-heated milk and caffeine - even though no locks or chains are there to keep them out. All they do is wait.
Safe inside the imaginary cordon sit the fortunate members of the club, heads studiously bent over the morning paper, or babbling into mobile phones, stuffing apricot croissants into their mouths and washing down the sweet dough with a sloosh of latte. Lighting up just one more ciggy before the final trudge into the office and another day of...