I was listening to BBC Radio 4 this morning (UK) and there was a programme on about ‘Soul Music’. The presenter was talking about his career in Boxing and how much and what the ‘Simon and Garfunkel’ song , The Boxer, meant to him. Its a great song from my youth … so here is my take on it, in 15 minutes.
It was the only space left on the station seat and I eyed him suspiciously. He looked dirty and cold. I had seen his like before sitting on the steps ouitside McDonalds or by the entrance to the station. A carrier bag of belongings and a weary look as they reached out to your heartstrings. But I was tired, the train was late and I needed somehwere to rest so I sat down before somebody else beat me to it.
I took my mobile out and started to check my messages partly out of habit but mostly so that I didnt have to engage with him. The rest of the passengers sitting on the bench were doing the same.
To my surprise I heard a mobile ringing and the scruffy cold young man pulled a phone out of his pocket and answered it.
‘Hi Mom’. No, I’ll be home soon, I’m fine don’t worry’.
He sounded almost normal and it occured to me that I’d never considered that even people like him had a family somehwere. I had always assumed that down and outs had been shunned by their families or had chosen to lose themsleves from their loved ones.
He listened to ‘his Mom’ and then ended the call saying ‘ Its been tough, but Im glad I came, I had to find out, I had to try. I’ll be home. Bye, I love you’.
He put his phone in his pocket and pulled the collar of his scruffy jacket tighter around his neck. He turned and looked at me, ‘ Cold isnt it’, he said.
‘Yes its bitter. I’m sorry I couldnt help but hear, are you on your way home for Christmas to see your Mom’.
‘Yes, I’ve not been home for three years’
I thought for a moment and then said ‘ You look like life’s dealt you a bad hand. It must be tough in the City’.
The young man smiled and said. ‘It’s OK, I’m a fighter, I wont give up. I’ve grown up alot in the last three years. University is not like I thought it would be, but it has taught me one thing at least’.
Quite shocked I said’ What did you learn’.
‘ That I want to work with kids. I want to help the poor kids, the kids who have lost hope to find it again. The kids who have had the fight knocked out of them. I want to help them get back up and fight again. ‘I’ve applied for a job to be a social worker’.
The train rattled into the station and we both joined the fight……. for a seat.