Shout out to the homeless kid outside the entrance to Superdrug on Nicolson Street, even though she ruined my day. Cracked straight through my prism of fairy lights and scented candles with her holey boots and her dirty shawl. All I wanted to do was fill my basket with stuff, go the counter and pay for it, take it home, decant it, wrap it and write on it, and put it back in a different, fancier bag.
There’s nineteen shopping days left ’till ground zero. Nineteen! I can’t afford to get distracted by a homeless child sitting on a cardboard box in the pissing rain and the freezing cold that is an Edinburgh winter.
Maybe she’s not a child. She could be a young looking eighteen, or a really young looking twenty one.
Browsing the hair dye aisle I concede she’s certainly young enough not to need to dye her roots. In any event, it’s probably not a priority for her. Where do the homeless dye their hair and wax their eyebrows? Where do the go to dip their feet in soaking hot water after a long day or night of Edinburgh Winter? Still, she’s young, this homeless child, so she probably has sturdy feet.
Sizing up the beautiful body, beautiful soul section in search of bath bombs. I need four. Found them! But they’re part of a buy two get one free offer. I feel my head spinning. Do I buy four, thereby getting one free? Do I buy six? And get two for nought. But then I’ll have two I don’t need. Can’t stand it when they mess with my mind like this.
What’s her mind like? This homeless girl. What does she think as she sits outside a beauty chain in the centre of one of the world’s most affluent cities and begs strangers for change? Maybe she hasn’t been doing it long? Maybe it’s a part-time thing? Maybe it’s a lifestyle choice? It would help if she had one of those hand-written card-board messages with some basic details explaining that she was not now, nor never had been, addicted to alcohol or drugs, and that she was, perhaps, an army vet, or made homeless because her Mum died.
I glance at my list and see there’s nail varnish in this season’s must have colour. Puce. Where the hell do they keep their nail varnish? Where the hell’s her Mother? Does she even know? I’d want to know if my son was begging on the streets of the city voted best city to live in in the U.K., by a royal mail study published in 2018. I wonder did she fill out that survey? Is she literate? Is English a second language? That might explain the absence of a cardboard box biography.
Fuck this shopping lark! I abandon my basket and head for the nearest exit, which is also the entrance, where she still sits begging.
Damn these homeless children sitting on damp steps outside high street chemists on freezing cold days in the build up to Christmas. Can the council not do anything about them? Like they do with the drunks in the Grass-market in the run up to the fringe?