View Full Version : Tramps

4th May 2004, 13:19
Why don't you get a good tramp any more? When I was younger there were some great tramps around. You'd see them pushing their shopping trolleys up the street, full of an exciting assortment of useless objects. They would invariably be wearing several pairs of gloves, making their hands look like a padded patchwork of wool. The chap from the council would be round, had they shaved, to charge them with destruction of habitat. For some reason they were always attracted to my mother, and would often follow her during her walk into work. Even the sign by our local tip, which used to read "Beware of the Tramp" has had the 'T' painted back out.

I haven't seen a proper tramp for ages. There are plenty of wannabes to be seen, clutching their pieces of cardboard complete with begging messages. But they just haven't got the hang of the shuffling walk, the pungent aroma and the ability to wear three or four coats, even on the hottest day of the year.

Bring them back!!!

(And no comments about going for a tramp in the woods, please :rolleyes: )

4th May 2004, 13:35
Aerbabe, you have just got to look. Took my 2 young boys to Tottenham Court Road/Centre Point to show them what would happen if they didn't work hard at school - plenty of pong and shuffle I can tell you. But to give the little men some balance we then went down to Park Lane and looked at the shiney car showrooms to show what happens if you work hard. :ok:

4th May 2004, 13:49
Got a couple of regulars near me - shopping trolley overloaded with plastic bags. Beard kept in a point by an elastic band.

I think you'll find there are more out there than there used to be....just depends where you look:(

4th May 2004, 14:00
Have they cleared out the waterloo station underpass yet? About 6 years ago that was Tramp heaven, if you're into that kinda thing....

4th May 2004, 14:01
There used to be a lady wandered around the St. Pauls/Ludgate Hill area of the City. She had a gazillion plastic bags in a trolley, but there was always something 'different' about her. For a start she had a very educated and cultured voice.

I subsequently heard a very sad story about her, the veracity of which was confirmed by a night security guard who used to let her kip in the lobby of the building.

She was a (married) journalist at one of the Fleet Street papers. She had an affair with a (married) guy at one of the other papers. He was posted to New York and ditched her in favour of his wife/kids.

The lady followed him and essentially stalked him. He committed suicide.

She came bact to London and roamed the streets until she died, always asking my chum the security guard if xxxxx was coming in that day.

Sounds rather urban legendish, but I'm assured it's true.

4th May 2004, 14:39

I guess I can believe that, not all tramps are school dropouts.
Once someone looses one's job and family, things can go downhill very fast :( :(

The Filth
4th May 2004, 14:55
Why don't you get a good tramp any more?

I live in Surrey. What's a tramp? Are they anything like "coal men" I hear people refer to now and again?

4th May 2004, 14:58
Absolutely, Bre , one has a friend who isn't that hard to envisage being in the same state in a few years' time but given that he's chosen the bottle over his friends, the will to change is going to have to come from him. Tragedy in the truest sense of the world is when you see tomorrow's tramp in the making but are powerless to do anything about it.

4th May 2004, 15:24
In Bristol they have revived some ancient law that allows them to arrest the homeless in the centre.
That should solve the problem :rolleyes:

4th May 2004, 16:09
Hmm, tough one. I've got a lot of sympathy for some of these guys, but no sympathy for the "give us your money" aggressive types.

Just a little story.

Last year, soon-to-be Mrs pkb and I had ourselves a vacation in California. We'd rented ourselves a convertible and were breeking down the Pacific Coast Highway. Beautiful day and all that. A couple of days earlier we'd been in Death Valley, so had a couple of gallon bottles of water in the back (just in case), and had picked up a grossly oversized sarnie each from a deli that morning. Anyway, late afternoon, quite warm and absolutely in the middle of nowhere, we passed a tramp. Now this guy was obvioulsy a long way from anywhere. Well, we took sympathy, turned back, gave him the rest of our half eaten sarnies (they had been cut hygienically, so he wasn't going to catch anything from us!) and left him with a gallon of water. A happier and nicer chap you couldn't have met! All round good egg, and we were happy to have met him, however briefly and however contemtuously he had regarded us at first when we pulled up (little rich kids and all that, from his perspective).

It was just one of those tiny little things that makes the difference to life, and so different to the yobs who accost you on the Underground or the bunch with flea bitten dogs being aggressive on Paris or Hamburg street corners. Or the winos in San Fran, come to that. There but for the grace of God go all of us.

There, I'll turn me bleeding heart liberal toggle off now.

4th May 2004, 16:38
The majority of homeless people are mentally ill, hence why they are on the street. Being poor won't get you on the street (for very long anyway) they normally have a drug and or alcohol problem coupled with mental illness.

There are some exceptions though. I worked with a bloke a few years back who was travelling around doing casual work during his early 20s who ended up homeless when he ran out of money. He had a 'worker' attitude and no drug problem, so he soon sorted himself out.

4th May 2004, 16:48
I have friend in San Francisco who came over here from England over 20 years ago. He married and was working in the pharmaceutical industry. His marriage failed, he lost his job. Soon after, he ended up sleeping in his car. He was like that for many months. Through sheer perseverence and hard work, he got back on his feet and is now pulling in nearly half a million bucks a year providing PR services.


The Filth
4th May 2004, 16:59
His marriage failed, he lost his job. Soon after, he ended up sleeping in his car. He was like that for many months. Through sheer perseverence and hard work, he got back on his feet and is now pulling in nearly half a million bucks a year...

Similar to Chris Tarrant. After his marriage collapsed and whilst working as a school teacher in south east London, he slept in his van - school kids would wake 'sir' up in the morning banging on the side - then he'd go into the school and use its facilites to wash, shave, et cetera.

Now a multi, multi millionaire, and still likes a beer as he cruiser once moored in Staines, proves.

4th May 2004, 17:00
Over the years have met one or two rather smartly dressed and dolled up ladies who would have worn that title quite well Aerbabe.
With regard to the smelly/hairy/shuffley ones I have always felt sorry for mosy of them with a tiny bit of, there but for the grace of God go I. I always remember the first one I met as a young boy, I was very sorry for him and was quite perplexed at the whole thing. I think 4 fitter's approach with his boys particularly sensible.
The young fit scruffy looking layabouts with the agressive manner invoke little sympathy, but I suppose that there still lies a story behind every one on the streets

4th May 2004, 17:51
I’ve never felt it necessary to avoid these guys, and they quite often have amazing stories to tell. In 1970 I was running a youth club and someone dumped an old Jag in our carpark. One evening when locking up I met this gentleman of the road who had apparently been sleeping in the Jag. We had a couple of coffees together and he told me a lot of his background when he was young in the navy (in Devon) and how he’d been married, living in Surrey but they couldn’t afford to keep up payments etc, and their relationship had gone downhill.

Years later, when working on a contract in Hastings, I met a man who was living in a bus-shelter on the A21. I had a few interesting conversations with him over a period of about a week. He was a redundant CAD Engineer, his marriage had broken up, and his wife had the house and kids. He stayed in hostels and went from one temp job to another, but found it very hard to get anything permanent without a fixed address. That would have been around 1992-93, a time when that area (especially) was extremely bad for gaining employment.

The fall from grace really isn’t that far for a lot of us…

4th May 2004, 18:05
I saw I right proper tramp on Euston Road a few weeks back. He had the gloves, big beard and grubby coat and was eating something or other out a can.

The song 'Streets of London' by Ralph McTell always brings a tear to me eye. Probably because I've seen it and know what he's talking about :(

4th May 2004, 18:09
The fall from grace really isn’t that far for a lot of us…


Is there not some saying about most of us being only 3 paychecks away from the streets... I can understand how this could be true for so many people - think about it for a minute.

Wasn't that bird out of the two fat ladies (the fatter of the two) Clarissa (mouth full of marbles) Dickenson Wright a barrister who ended up living on the streets? Bet she made a good tramp... :E

Looks like a lunatic at the best of times!


4th May 2004, 18:41
I've actually spoken to quite a few homeless people, come to think about it.

One night, after many beers i found myself talking to a homeless guy sitting on the floor in picadilly circus. I asked how he ended up on the street, so he told me about how he was 'done' for GBH against his girlfriend, went to jail and was barred from seeing his daughter...

He told me that he had a place in homeless accom, but was chucked out beacuse he refused to keep his room tidy.

I don't believe in karma, but if you act like an asswhole you won't get any rewards.

4th May 2004, 18:58
In my72nd year, after a lifetime of hard work and having achieved a decent degree of success with career, wife and family, I still worry about maybe one day having to move to Cardboard City. Its occupants have my utmost respect. Good luck to them all.

There, but for the grace of God...

4th May 2004, 18:59
Back when I was a young illegal immigrant in New York, with absoloutely not a penny to my name, trying to scrape an exsistance by doing Furniture removal or harassing people on building sites for work as a brickie, and nobody wanted to know me cause of my status.
I couldn't afford accomadation, just for about a week or so, had to spend my nights drifting in and out of conciousness in Penn Station, fortunately I didn't look like the average tramp, so wasn't really harassed to much, but I did start to smell after a few days and nobody would sit near me, which was fine by me!!

It does upset me when I see some homeless people wondering the streets argueing with themselves,
You would have to fall very far to be reduced to that, and it could very easily have been anyone, very few of them are drug addicts, many of them may be fond of a bottle of wine, but if thats what keeps them going, well I don't mind throwing them a few quid at all!

4th May 2004, 19:16
Once came across two having a fight/cuddle on the seafront in Blackpool (I know!!) and I swear on my grandmothers grave that one of them was actually marginally on fire. Makes you wonder.

4th May 2004, 19:21
There are a remarkable number of people who live in the terminals at LHR. It's warm, bustling, and there is usually some food and drink to be found.

The Police move them on, and it is only the aggressive ones, or those who are otherwise a nuisance who end up in court.

The smart ones are reasonably well dressed so as not to stand out, but the police get to know them anyhow.

The Chaplain hands out food and offers what comfort he can, I understand.

4th May 2004, 20:19
I haven't seen a proper tramp for ages.

You haven't met me!

On a serious note, I consider how they deal with the homeless to be a measure of a society's status. There will always be people that fall through the gaps, for whatever reason. The crucial issues are how society cares for them and the opportunities for "re-integration", i.e. no address, no job - no job, no address etc.


4th May 2004, 21:01
On a slightly different note.. Anyone see that bloke with no official identity on bbc a week or so ago, he has lived in the UK his whole life and worked on building sites etc.

Beacuse he's never bothered to sort out an identity (in 68 or so years!!!) he can't claim a pension. I think they are going to help him anyway, and i guess it's only right to... but it really annoys me that he hasn't paid a penny of the money he earned to tax, but now he expects us to pay for him.

4th May 2004, 21:18
AerBabe, you haven’t been hanging around many pilot bars lately then have you?

On a serious note however, here in the United States we do have a homeless problem, less than the media would have you believe, but never the less there are homeless/tramps/bums in every decent size city. However by law the police cannot remove these people from the street. If these people do not want to go to a shelter they cannot be forced to. This a major problem during severe cold weather, the cops make a sweep of a city and take as many of these people they can to shelters, but as soon as the cops leave these folks leave again and go back out on the streets. Sadly every winter some freeze to death.

There is a scam being run here in the US by the so-called homeless. It started a few years ago when I started noticing some rather unkempt people hanging around major street intersection with homemade signs, made for cardboard boxes, claiming, “Homeless (pick a number) kids WILL WORK FOR FOOD!” Well of course they wouldn’t actually really work for food, there was always something wrong with their backs or their legs, etc. But you could still give them money! Now the newest scam is the sign says, “HELP stranded need work or money” a variation of this is carried by a younger (looks around 30) person has a sign that says, “HELP college student stranded need money”.

The reason I am sure this is a scam is because a few weeks ago I was Houston Texas and when we drove to have lunch we passed a major intersection and there was this woman with “Help stranded” sign. A few blocks later here was a younger woman with the same sign. Returning to the airport via a different route we came across a guy with the good old “Help stranded” sign and a few blocks later was the bloke with “Help college student” sign. Two days later in Oklahoma City guess what? You got it, people standing on major intersection with signs that said, “HELP stranded need money”, different folks than in Houston.

The Invisible Cat
5th May 2004, 20:04
One is wondering why tramps very often have pet dogs, yet very seldom pet cats :confused: :confused:

5th May 2004, 20:22
It's a kind of mark of how the country works, isn't it. My missus gets involved with some of these folks from time to time, and reckons most of them have mental problems and are being treated to "care in the community" - otherwise known as "throw them out on the streets".

Some no doubt deserve their fate, but many of them don't have the mental capability to look after themselves. I'm glad there are the charities out there who will look after such folk where they can. (Some, I know, won't accept any such support.)

5th May 2004, 20:58
very seldom pet cats My father and I had a favourite trampette in Northampton. She was very nice, but obviously had major learning problems. Ever since dad could remember, she had sat on the high street hitting random notes on a little Casio keyboard, surrounded by cats & collecting for the CPL*.

*Cats' Protection League, not Commercial Pilot's Licence.

5th May 2004, 22:16
I saw a proper tramp in Zurich.

He was a proper tramp by Swiss standards in that he was dressed pretty much like the average englishman. He had a samll haversack which presumably contained life's essentials.

He made the error of lying down on the seats near the tram stop at the top end of Hauptbahnhoffstrasse and came to the attention of the authorities. A passing policeman had rather official looking words with him and wrote up what I presume was a warning not to loiter which was then handed to the wanderlein, who promptly moved on.

In the UK, there's the bloke who lives under the flyover at Chiswick.

I also used to see a chap who wore frayed denims which he had taken to patching by pulling carrier bags through the holes. He looked like nothing so much as a mass of discarded polythene out for a stroll. I saw him in south London and out as far as East Grinstead.

6th May 2004, 04:19
The Invisible Cat

Dunno about now coz I have been out of UK for years, but when I was working in Bristol around 1990 I asked why so many street people had dogs. The answer? The handout they got from DSS was enhanced to take care of the pet dog, which was doubtless not spent on the dog which had to forage for itself. Also possibly a bit of extra bargaining power when begging.

6th May 2004, 06:20
I generally strike up conversation with anyone on trains etc and also to homeless people on the streets if we make eye contact. I've asked about the dog thing and was told it is for protection. I've never been asked for money by someone I have actually stopped and had a chat with and guess what! they are human beings too!
It is scarily easy to fall through the net If you don't have a supportive family and don't cope with the problems life throws at all of us sooner or later. There but for the grace of God (or whomever) etc.

6th May 2004, 07:49
Part of something I posted previously on this (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=11611) thread.

Today I went and spoke to someone who was homeless.
"How did I end up on the street ? I had been homeless before but I got a flat and a job. I let another homeless couple share my flat. My job ment I was working away from home often. This did not seam to be a probem until I was away for about ten days. When I returned they had cleaned the flat out, They had even taken the gas boiler. I was evicted from the flat because of the damage. A few days later I lost my job, sleeping rough it is difficult to even know when it is time to go to work. My social worker is trying to have my eviction over turned."

Some of you have said if you are prepared to work you will not be on the streets long, employers want someone with a permanant address, to get a permanant address you need a job.

6th May 2004, 10:27
Couple of winters ago the plight of an elderly homeless gentleman came to the attention of the greater Wellington population, in NZ.
He'd been on the streets so long he'd lost track of most of his history, til even his birthday was hazy. Estimates put him at 62-64 yo. Well-kept, if not totally and regularly clean-shaven and definitely streets ahead ( no pun intended) from "beard-in-rubberband" mode. Slept in a local public park, no dog, strolled around a regular city 'route' to the point he was accepted and people knew him, either from occasional chit-chat or simply noticing his regular perambulations.
Literally a 'gentle man', the police didn't bother him. Until some lofty, do-gooder politician, in his (cos this definitely wouldn't come from the mind of a woman - sexism deliberate) eyrie started looking at ways to clear the homeless, before winter did this cryogenically.
Suddenly, uproar. This gent, through good luck or timing, became the lightning rod of public concern. Over several days the story developed, even to tracking down his kin.
Someone came forth to recognise him as family. Ex-military, somewhere in his past, lost a wife, gave up permanent abode cos he was happier 'free'.

He died of the cold some weeks later, found still and at peace, in his favourite place in the park.

Haven't recounted that small blink of the life of a soul til now. The poignancy hits me, how s/one so solitary made the choice to be solitary. And we complain when the heating's off, or TV's [email protected] . . .