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Of goats and trolls

December 21, 2009

Well it looks like they’ve thumbed south for the winter, those homeless people who had taken up residence under the bridge behind our house. When I say “homeless”, I only use that term for want of a better one. They look like a cross between the “New Age Travelers” that used to live in caravans, buses and other wheeled transportation/house hybrids at the bottom of Gorebridge when I was growing up, the tree-sitting, dreadlock-sporting, tooth-donating, clothes-layering, drum-beatin’ fezzas of Tasmania, and the crowd at a Levellers gig. They also don’t have that down-and-out look of genuine homeless people; a blank stare, clouded over eyes and shuffled feet. In their mid-to-late twenties, most of them appear to be living this lifestyle by choice, a kind of dismissal of society, replacing it instead with a life consisting of oddly shaped dogs on bits of string, backpacks, and sleeping (substitute with shouting, fighting, drinking, as required) under bridges.

My real gripe isn’t with the people themselves; it’s with the publishers of whatever guide-book they use to find their night’s accommodation. I’m sure there must be a Lonely Planet for North American Society Drop-outs, or a Rick Steves’ “Guide to the Underside of the Bridges of Northern California”. Whatever they use, the bridge behind our house must have a fairly good rating; four stars for comfort, three for cleanliness of amenities, and a big five out of five for the friendly natives.

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