street life


Written by Cathoel Jorss,

Autumn in Berlin and the grimy guy begging outside our supermarket is absorbed in a book. When I come home he’s set it down to thank a woman who dropped some coins into his smashed paper cup. It is Sylvia Plath.

I prefer him to the punker dude who spreads himself with a large dog either side right in front of the sliding doors, then leans far across the pavement to make elaborate drawings in chalk which people then have to step around. His begging seems to me a form of veiled aggression. It is a set-up that forces compliance on every passerby, lest we tread on his art.

The two months I was away I compared the daily forecasts and found Brisbane, in its winter, was invariably a degree or two warmer than here. Summer has been short and late. Just last week on the canalside two boys in the late sun were playing chess. These are the last days, and it will be so cold til June next year we will see nothing of each other but our faces.

3 comments on “autumbled

  1. Well, I also see plenty of people who approach human-to-human, who are asking honestly. I see plenty of people who *are* richer, turning their faces away when someone is in need.

    It must feel lonely to pass a cafe where people are sitting in the sun spending three euros on a coffee when you have nothing. But if they turn you down, I don’t feel that entitles you to stand glowering intimidatingly over their table for minutes on end.

    Same with those hired salespeople who bounce into the path saying, Care to help the environment today? care to help children? The aggression lies in the phrasing of the question, intended to take away our ability to say no.

    On the other hand Europeans so often astound me with their callousness. To sit in an outdoor restaurant being served and buying a meal, then to not bother responding to a musician who has livened up the atmosphere and now comes round humbly asking for small change is another form of aggression and entitlement, and it’s exercised from a position of more power.

    Cathoel Jorss September 24, 2016 at 11:32 am

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