Off the street
IT’S astonishing what you can find on the streets of London. Indeed, my own enthusiasm for abandoned furniture was an early source of marital tension. Now that I’ve successfully tamed my inner magpie, however, it seems that the spirit has passed to the children. They began by collecting elastic bands (which may be discovered in surprising numbers on the pavements of the capital). More recently, there has been an enthusiasm for discarded decorations. Just this Saturday, in fact, I found myself trying to dispose discreetly of a golden Christmas bauble and— detached—plastic bell at Hammersmith Broadway.
However, the real interest of the moment is coins, which are understood to have value. For the same reason, if they’re seen to be dropped, the children will seek to return them. This endearingly honest habit has brought home to me how careless people can be of small change; it’s sometimes even dropped like litter. Outside Farringdon station last week, I watched in confusion while the copper coins deliberately discarded by a beggar from his bowl were carefully collected together and given back to him. He looked surprised and a little displeased. He did, however, create great happiness when he magnanimously offered them back to the collector. JG