The strangest thing. There is an enormous thunder and rain storm going on – as it has been all night – following a week of unusually hot weather in the UK. So far so normal for a British summer.
What is less usual is that half an hour ago – at 5am to be exact – there was repeated banging on my door. So I went down to check it out and there on my doorstep was a young black bloke dressed in the American homeboy style.
If this was America, I’d never have opened my door but fortunately Oxford still retains some basic civility. He indicates that he’s deaf and can he have a piece of paper and a pen. So I close the door and lock it and go get the paper. On it he writes that he’s from Bicester – about an hour bus ride away – and he had missed his bus. He then indicated he was drenched (hardly surprising as it had been tipping down all night).
So I asked him what he wanted and offered an umbrella. I was going to direct him to the night shelter but they closed it down over six months ago after the drunks started creating trouble. So, I figured what the hell – anyone who is miserable enough to knock on a stranger’s frontdoor at 5am and asked to be let in has to be in need.
So I let him in, gave him a towel, pointed him to the shower and put some clean and dry clothes outside the door. I also found the most threatening tool I had – a large tripod as it turned out (where’s my hockey stick gone?) – and moved it to within grasp.
Anyway, he was clearly exhausted because he gently ambled up the stairs looking a bit sheepish so I shoved a cup of tea in his hand (he takes two sugars), put the TV on and handed him the control. Within about two minutes, the poor sod was fast asleep on my sofa and his clothes are currently drying in the washing machine.
So I have done my good deed for the day. The strange thing is that the one detail that most worried me about the whole thing was the homeboy clothing – big, baggy red top, Tupac cartoon and the like. Thank christ for the anti-gun laws in this country.
Seeing as I’m up, I might as well do some work…
Update: Well, I woke him up at 11.30am and said it was time he went, so he changed back into his clothes and just this second ambled off into the distance, shaking my hand. At least I’ve saved one person a dreadful night. Odd experience.