The social element of the afternoon was very enjoyable and the hanging around was restorative, rather than dull. There was good conversation and I was converted from a pale tired wreck into an enthusiastic energy ball. I retrospectively thought that my body was doing its usual trick of enforcing some relaxation on me, knowing there'd be a big gig and a long late night drive home.
I think the gig went well. I overran my spot a bit, but the promoter seemed happy. I will work on putting something a bit more edifying into my set at some point. The other act (it was 2 acts + MC tonight) showed me for what I am, an aimless cheerer-upper, with his set, which was a sweeping example of thoughtfulness, passion and philosophy. I was impressed and amused and in awe. As you can see from this description.
But I do have my own principles.
As we were leaving the venue I was approached by a woman asking for money. She didn't ask me for my number, so I felt I was probably in territory I'm familiar with (the latter confuses me). She gave a story about a hostel for the night and I provided her with a quid. I didn't really explore her story, nor feel like she needed to justify her request for a quid with anything more.
As I was doing this, one of the members of my party proceeded to argue that the quid should not be put in the hand of a person on the street, but should, instead be given to a homeless charity. Tactful. Especially as the recipient was still present. I can't remember if these comments were addressed to me, or just announced to the world. I can't remember if the begging individual asked my friend for money next, or simply questioned his outburst. What followed, though, was a cringeworthy head to head between the old-school-mate of mine and the girl who was trying to make her ends meet by street-begging.
His arguments: "How do I know what you're going to spend it on?" and "Shouldn't you go somewhere legitimate for support" were met with some low-key explanation from the girl and a lot of butt clenching from me. I tried to extricate him from the situation. Eventually, it ended and we walked away.
I'll write down now what I said to him and what I believe to be true in this situation. If a street beggar approaches you, you have two things you can make a choice over. You can choose whether to give them money. You can choose whether to listen to their story or interact with them socially. You do not get the choice over whether to give them a good telling off for their behaviour.
A bit of human respect and courtesy is not optional. A vulnerable individual, resorting to street begging, is not to be treated like that. Full stop.
Personally, when I've got a spare quid in my pocket, someone sitting begging may well find themselves a quid up. It's not a big deal to me, and may make a difference to them. It may keep them the right side of hungry. It may contribute towards hostel beds, which seldom come free. It may avoid them resorting to other methods for getting money, even if that money will be used to keep their withdrawal symptoms at bay. That's my choice.
Not a funny end to the evening.
I was shocked at the Dickensian attitude of someone I thought I knew. I hope this person never finds themselves at the bottom of a deep well of despair - if you get what you give in life, then it won't be fun for him down there.