Saturday, March 28, 2009

encounters with women with problems

I got off the bus earlier this week near to where I live and I saw a woman who could barely walk. She looked as if she was about to collapse. I went up to her and said are you OK. I said to her come and sit on the wall with me and I tried to talk to her.

She started crying and said that she had lost all of her money and would not have any more for a week or so. I said to her "Have you spent all of your money on drugs?". She said no, everybody seems to think that she is on drugs but she doesn't take drugs.

She couldn't even sit up straight on the wall she seemed to be so tired and about to collapse. She took out some sweets from her pocket and tried to eat one. She said she hadn't had anything to eat all day. She seemed very confused and disorientated.

It was getting dark and I tried to find out about her. I asked her if she knew where she lived but she didn't seem to be making any sense. She said that she had been robbed and that her boyfriend was abusive and must have spiked her with a drug that morning.

I had the number of the local police on my mobile but when I tried to ring it there was no reply. I didn't think she could just be left on the street in her condition. I rang 999 because I didn't know what else to do. When the police came the first thing she said was that she is a heroin addict. I asked if they knew her.

They told me there was nothing they could do for her and so I just had to walk away. I told them what she had told me about getting robbed and spiked but they said this was rubbish. I looked back to see what had happened to her. She was striding away from the police so she had obviously perked up.

I can now see that she was telling me things that were not true, but I believe her distress, confusion and disorientation were real. I would have given her a bit of money for her to get home or something to eat if she had been honest with me. I did give her a bit of loose change.

I have not seen a woman in this condition before, although I have met lots of drug addicts. I don't know if she was mentally ill, or if taking drugs has made her mentally ill or if the addiction itself can be thought of as a mental illness. I watched the film 'The Magdalene Sisters' which shows young women incarcerated for basically nothing. Of course this is bad but in our society we have gone in the opposite direction and leave women on the streets in danger of attack, rape, hypothermia, addiction to drugs and alcohol, and STDs. Also they don't take their medication and so have untreated mental illness.

Last year in the summer I was walking along Greek Street in Soho when I saw a woman standing on the kerb. She looked about 30. She was wearing a hooded jacket that seemed to big for her and inappropriate for the warm weather. She was carrying a number of carrier bags some of which seemed empty. She looked homeless.

When I came back along the same road about half an hour later she was still standing in the same spot. I went up to her and asked if she was OK. I asked her if I could buy her a coffee or something. I asked her if she knew anywhere we could go for a coffee.

She led me off to Charing Cross Road and into the local Sainsbury's there. The security guard immediately stopped her and said that she knew she wasn't allowed in there. She pointed to me and said that I would be paying. The guard escorted her back onto the street and explained to me that she had been caught shoplifting before and he thought there was something wrong with her.

She then led me briskly south along Charing Cross Road, not looking to see if I was following. At one point I stopped and let her walk on but after a few paces she turned and said that we were nearly there. She took me to a fast food outlet and started ordering something. I paid for it and also a coffee for myself.

I sat opposite her and she seemed to be intent on eating, although quite slowly. I asked her what her name was and she said 'Langdon' although I doubt that this is her real name. I asked her who looks after her and she said the NHS. I tried to find out about her. At one point I got her to smile. She was quite attractive and child like.

I'm not sure what is wrong with her but my guess is autism. There is a hostel at the north end of Greek Street so I am not sure if she was living there. A couple of months later I saw her again at the southern end of Greek Street. I went up to her and asked if she remembered me. She said she did but it was obvious that she did not want to talk to me. She seemed frightened of me.

I did not anticipate that this could happen. The only thing I could think of was that she said something to somebody - perhaps the staff at the hostel - about how a man had bought her something to eat, and that they had told her this was dangerous.

It's a pity because I would have bought her something else to eat and I would never have tried to have any kind of sexual contact with her. She was obviously not being looked after where she was, getting into trouble with the police and not getting enough to eat. I'm sure that there would be many people in that area who would give her a helping hand without trying to abuse her so it would be a pity if someone has tried to make her afraid of strangers.