My recent pieces have been about signs and other things that I’ve found interesting here in L A. The item below is a bit of a departure. Social media is about how good things are for the writers and I’m no exception but this one is not.
We have been in L A for a few weeks wandering the streets, taking pictures of all sorts of items that I find either stimulating or amusing. Some areas are better than others and a so called poor district can be a street or so away from one where they advertise “armed response” security in little signs on the beautifully kept lawns.
Yesterday, I walked back to where we have been staying from the car hire place after returning the car to them. “You’ve only gone just over a 100 miles” said the Avis man. May be I said but believe me I’ve sat in that car for quite a long time. It took us 2 hours to get the 20 miles back from Santa Monica.
On that trip we drove through, or crawled to be exact, through some of Hollywood’s richest districts. At one point a massive vehicle that looked like a Brinks Mat armoured truck pulled out in front of us driven by blond housewife seemingly on her way to collect the kids from the local private school. It looked for all the world like a military vehicle. No one was going to mess with her.
So on my walk back from the care hire I took the opportunity to take a few more pictures. In an area of Korea Town on the main road, there on the pavement was a bundle of what looked like rags, all in black. A man of small stature, bearded and possibly in the worst state I have encountered a human being. Sitting crouched down like a wounded animal, which he was really. Quiet but desperate.
Absolutely the dirtiest human being I have ever encountered. A white man that looked like he’d been down a coal mine. In fact the last time I have seen a man so dirty was many years ago in the North West of Lancashire when I was a child of seven seeing miners leaving work, their teeth, unlikely to be their own, shone white from blackened faces. They were smiling, this poor man looked like he might never smile again. A picture could not do this justice and the least I could do was not to take one and with it what remained of his pride, if any remained.
Poor desperate people are not uncommon here. They carry all their worldly belongings with them, in bags or shopping trolleys or both.They populate the areas near the freeways and try to set up camps and shelters under bridges with bits of plastic and their inadequate bedding.
The other day we were going out in the car and as we stopped at a traffic light, there beside my window was another man, down on his luck. Not more than 30 years old, matted hair and again a filthy state. He looked me in the eye and I turned away, I’m not sure quite why, so looked back at him, he was looking at the ground so as to avoid any eye contact, not just with me, but with anyone. Someone’s son off the rails and alone in possibly the richest city on the planet. We have our fair share of poor and homeless in the UK, but these men were really the very poorest I’ve ever encountered.
It’s a blight on this country that they do not seem to look after these poor souls a little better than they do.