In the meantime, a little filler, a small piece of guilt absolution in the blog confessional if you will.
Whilst taking a coffee at the Pret opposite the Chandos near Trafalgar Square the other day, I was approached by a lady who bore a passing resemblance to Timmy Mallett, wearing as she was large white plastic framed glasses and pink tights (though I'm not 100% sure that Timmy wore pink tights, I'm not denying the possibility) if perhaps a slightly shabbier version.
"Excuse me sir," she said in (I think) an Italian accent, "Cen you pliz..."
I impatiently waved my hand towards her, whilst shaking my head and continuing to peer at my BlackBerry. It wasn't the first time I had seen her in operation, and I told her so.
"You've asked me before!" I snapped, my tone a little more aggressive than I had intended and she was clearly taken aback, replying angrily:
"I 'even't esked you! I... I..."
"Yes you have." I said firmly.
Seeing that I was unmoved (also - truth be told - I was hopeful that the scene would not escalate further as the people at tables around me were turning to stare) and would stubbornly gaze at the BB until she left me alone, she turned away and made for someone else.
"Excuse me, sir. My purse..."
Whether egged on by my stern refusal to donate to the lady's cause or not, I couldn't say, but the chap she had approached - sharply shaved head and sharp business suit, on the way to a sales pitch somewhere, I reckoned - took exception to her entreaties and a commotion started. I couldn't make out what the man had said, but the woman launched into an impassioned defence of her dignity. She was an artist, not a beggar. He had not right to treat her like a piece of dirt because she had been unlucky. He was not a worthwhile human being, and she hoped one day that he would understand how hard life can be when everyone tunred their back on him in his time of greatest need.
I had turned from observed to observer in a few moments; glad that the attention had been diverted from me, but sad that I had participated in such a mean-spirited piece of pantomime.